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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Ferryl Shayde by Vance Huxley is the first book in a new series. All Abel wanted to do was get library books for his mother. When two bullies attack him on the way home, he has to cut through an abandoned property to get away from them. While escaping, he trips over a stone slab that awakens an ancient being called Ferryl Shayde, who agrees to save him from the bullies if he helps her escape. Abel makes a deal that changes his life. In exchange for her freedom, Ferryl agrees to protecting and training Abel in magic. The more Abel learns magic, the more he incorporates it into the game he's creating with his two best friends, and the riskier keeping his secret becomes. He sees more in this world than ever before when he finds magical beings lurking everywhere. Now it's up to him to protect the town and his own secrets.
Abel is rather knowledgeable and keeps the upper hand over Ferryl Shayde, but he also still has an innocence about him as he finds joy in his life. As a whole new world opens up to him, magic starts to blend more and more into his reality, even into the game he's helping develop. The more he learns the more magic starts to filter into his life. Magic and reality not only co-exist, but become more at one as the story progresses. A lot of humor underlies everything Ferryl does, because she's a bright and playful being whose idea of justice often involves violence and punishment. She balances out Abel's youthful outlook on life with her ancient understanding of how society works.
Through the humor and magical fun, Vance Huxley also hit upon serious topics such as bullying and abuse. Abel and his friends constantly deal with bullies, while one of his friends also has an abusive father. Their biggest use of magic goes toward protecting themselves and giving them a feeling of safety and confidence. Magic depends on how it's used, but Ferryl Shayde puts magic primarily in a positive light as it seems to do more to improve their lives than anything else. A unique and modern fantasy adventure, Ferryl Shayde is a story of friendship, with humor, magic, and a lot of heart.