When it comes to fantasy fiction I’m not averse to picking up lighter, swifter reads aimed at the teen set. I love anything strange and different! Haven: A Stranger Magic is a fantasy fiction novella that introduces us to thirteen-year-old Sam, a boy so completely average he feels invisible and useless. However, things change for Sam when he begins having strange nightmares and a mysterious stranger appears (and disappears) in the street outside his home. Now Sam is about to find out that he’s far from average.
I wasn’t expecting to really like a book with a teen male protagonist–not really my preferred POV, for obvious reasons–but this book sucked me in. It’s fast-paced but doesn’t rush you into the magic part of things; in fact, the biggest magic “reveal” doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. I think one of the trickiest parts of writing about magic is steadily dosing your audience without dragging your feet or rushing them too quickly, and this book strikes the right balance between “hmm, things are getting weird” and “whoa, magic!”.
The only thing that really interrupted the narrative (for me) was the way characters are described; the book is written in the third person but mostly comes from Sam’s POV, and most teenage boys I know aren’t going to note, in detail, the outfit an older sister is wearing or the haircut of a friend. That little rumple aside, the story flows by really quickly until the end. If you don’t like spoilers, I recommend staying away from the Goodreads page for this book because it has what I consider an end spoiler in the description. Suffice it to say, saving the big reveal for the end and then cutting it off with a cliffhanger makes the story much more satisfying and leaves you wanting the next installment in the series so you can find out what will happen to Sam (and what those weird dreams mean).