Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw

Todd Calgi Gallicano. Delacorte, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1365-2

After 12-year-old Sam London runs into a gryphon in Death Valley, he’s drawn into an exciting world where fantastic creatures dwell among humans and in remote places. Mentored by the dynamic Dr. Vance Vantana, an agent of the Department of Mythical Wildlife, Sam sets out to discover why this particular gryphon, Phylassos, chose to appear to him. He soon learns that a cursed artifact keeps the magical world hidden from everyday humans, someone is attempting to destroy it in order to reveal the monsters that lurk in the shadows, and Sam and his allies must stop them. It’s a death-defying, globe-spanning adventure, packed with creatures out of folklore and myth—dog-headed cynocephali, murderous redcaps, the elusive bigfoot, and many more. It’s a solid series opener and debut for Gallicano, who stocks his story with engaging characters, human and otherwise. The only downsides are a tendency to deliver backstory in info dumps and an underwhelming villain who doesn’t bring much oomph to the story’s climax. Ages 10–up. Agent: Lacy Lynch and Dabney Rice, Dupree Miller & Associates. (Aug.)