Sarah Beth Durst does it again in “Chasing Power” — she writes a story with a likable young protagonist who is clever, principled and yet not perfect (this girl happens to be a thief). Kayla is a thief for a good reason; she never knows when or if she and her mother will need to pack quickly in the night and flee.
Kayla and her mother have been running from her violent father for almost as long as Kayla can remember. He killed Kayla’s sister and would kill her if he could find them. Now they are safely ensconced in Santa Barbara (not a bad place to hide), and her mother uses charms and pseudo-magic to protect them. Kayla, in the meantime, uses her special “power” to steal small items from stores and people. Small, but valuable items like platinum rings and hundred dollar bills. It’s not for her, but to help her mother with the rent, and so that they’d have something to pawn in case they need to flee in the night and start over.
When a mysterious guy appears in town and knows her name, Kayla is frightened. Daniel needs her help but Kayla isn’t sure what to do. She turns to her best friend Selena to help her, and together, all three uncover what turns out to be a huge mystery: three magic stones that promise invincibility; Daniel’s mother, who was kidnapped to force Daniel and Kayla to work together and find the stones; and Selena, brilliant yet insecure, who is invaluable in helping them.
(Spoiler alert) It turns out that Daniel’s mother and Kayla’s mother and father were best friends when they were young. Durst has cleverly created another trio of friends who must work together in order to save the world from Kayla’s father and Daniel’s mother. (End spoiler alert)
Daniel has the ability to teleport to any place he has seen (even in a picture). Kayla’s magic is also unique. She can move small things with her mind. Things like gum wrappers or sand or dirt. What she does with that power, and how she uses it both to steal and to protect herself, is ingenious. And that’s why Durst has so many loyal fans. Her stories are filled with genius ideas.
With “Chasing Power,” Durst goes back to what she does best — writing solid stories that are hard to put down, featuring protagonists who are really likable and believable and who have magic (for example “Drink, Slay Love,” “Enchanted Ivy,” and “Ice”).
Readers will root for Kayla to help Daniel and save the world. It’s certainly a page turner and a very satisfying read.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reading copy provided by the publisher, Walker Books, for review purposes.
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