I picked this book up for my lunchtime read, and was pulled in from the first lines:
"When you have a kid, don't call it something stupid.
Don't call it Apple, or Pear, or Mung Bean.
Don't call it Owl.
This advice is a bit late for me. Because she did. She did call me Owl. Twelve years ago she looked down at a tiny little baby - me - and decided that Owl would be a good way to go."
'She', in this case, would be Isolde, Owl's free-spirited, artistic, sometimes distracted but always loving mother. And her father? Well, you read the blurb, so you won't be quite as surprised as Owl is. What is pleasantly surprising is that Wilson is able to avoid so many common tropes, even with what is, on surface, a common plot line; child discovers he/she has some secret ancestry that imbues special powers, child must learn how to use said powers, often with help of friends who may or may not also have special powers.
Friends! Everyone should have a friend like Mallory, bless that girl. She does not exist merely as a foil for our heroine, but is a fleshed-out character in her own right. Avery has his own issues, which we won't spoil here. Jack Frost is not what one might expect from the stories, and is allowed to be a bit more complicated than even he thinks he is.
Owl's journey to understand what is happening to her, as well as her new and changing relationships, are as believable as they can be when half the characters are fay. The prose is at once down to earth (see opening lines) and lyrical:
"I'm standing on the riverbank, watching Jack's bare feet dance across the ice as though it were a ballroom floor, patterns curling out around him, and I don't know whether the world is shrinking or growing, but there's an exploding sort of feeling in my chest because nothing is ever going to be the same after today."
Isn't that second part a great way to describe adolescence?
The world building happens quickly, given some depth in short passages that tell how Owl's mother first met Jack. I have a clear mental picture of Jack's domain, but not so much some of the others. I am hoping for a sequel that will flesh those out, as well as the very interesting characters Wilson has introduced.
In short, I liked Owl, I liked this world (both worlds) and their characters, and I hope to get to know them all better. An excellent debut!