cover image The Identity Thief (God Machine #1)

The Identity Thief (God Machine #1)

Alex Bryant. K&M, $15.27 e-book (426p) ISBN 978-1-913571-01-6

Set in a present-day London in which sorcery is illegal, Bryant’s imaginative debut follows pale, implied white Cass Drake, 12, who is a few weeks into trying to navigate a year at Whittington School, with its pitfalls of friendship and boyfriends. Then the River People—the mysterious, suspected sorcerer inhabitants of a cemetery-adjacent mansion—return. The quiet, strange Hector Skeuopoios, a black-haired, golden-brown-skinned boy who has epilepsy and “is kind of short, kind of chubby, and obviously Greek,” becomes both a target of bullies at school and an awkward, ever-present thorn in Cass’s side. Though her mother, Helen, insists they befriend Hector and his mother, Cass pointedly ignores him. Paralleling Cass’s social disaster is Helen’s job at the Sorcery Investigation Department as Detective Chief Inquisitor on the case of mimetic sorcerer Cuttlefish. Cuttlefish is a sinister character set on collecting the dangerous Daedalus books, which soon draws the attention of the Lyceum, London’s magic mafia. Interweaving a variety of media, Bryant skillfully draws these threads together into a tightly paced, often humorous narrative that drives to a tense end. Ages 12–up. (Self-published)