When Gypsum LaZelle finally gets the family power, it's the cursing type. Being the odd child out, long past the normal age of transition, Gyp's new skills aren't monitored by her elders. She makes mistakes and becomes a danger to her family.

Gyp creates what she thinks is a curse child, but it's really a vessel for a disembodied spirit. The ancient spirit calls itself Altria, and it encourages Gyp to do strange things, not all of them nice. But Altria also tutors Gyp in her new powers, teaching her how to siphon off the excess into another dimension and how to manipulate her curses into good deeds.

Family ties are made poignantly real in this powerful, visceral fantasy. Inventive cursing, such as the Ultimate Fashion Sense, keeps the story whimsical and slightly off-kilter. (Nov., 368 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper