Meg Cabot, . . HarperCollins, $16.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-075586-7
Cabot (the Princess Diaries) brings the Arthurian legend to modern times in this clever novel. Ellie's parents are medieval studies professors on sabbatical in Annapolis, where Avalon High's senior class president tells her he feels a strange connection to her. Will seems like a golden boy, but Ellie soon hears strange rumors: Will's father had his best friend killed and married the man's wife, leaving Will with a troubled stepbrother. Plus, Ellie discovers Will's girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend. Readers will enjoy making the connections to the real Arthurian legend, puzzling out—as Ellie does—that girlfriend Jennifer is sort of like Guinevere, and Will's best friend, Lance, Lancelot. It will likely come as no surprise to readers when Ellie learns that Will's first name is really Arthur. But could it be true, as one teacher (and the Order of the Bear to which he belongs) believes, that Will is King Arthur reborn, destined to "lead the modern-day world out of the Dark Ages and into a new age of enlightenment"—unless his brother kills him? Ellie cannot deny the similarities in their stories, but she refuses to believe she is Elaine of Astolat (aka the Lady of Shalott), who killed herself over Lancelot. If that's the case, she thinks, why is she crushing on Will? Readers will be swept up in the fantasy framework (and likely be willing to accept some delectably outrageous plotting, such as when Will learns that his stepmother is actually his true mom). There is plenty of suspense here to hold their attention, as they, like Ellie, try to fit together all the pieces. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 01/23/2006