This is a potentially fascinating new series. Brenda is a likable and engaging protagonist, and her navigation of new situations is believable and sure-footed. But the story lacks a certain oomph, and Lindskold's prose, while workmanlike and competent, is overly talkative in places and often intrudes on the narrative.
Exiled to Earth about 75 years ago, the Thirteen Orphans hid their magic in the game of mah-jongg and aligned themselves with the various animals of the Chinese zodiac, each exemplifying the traits of their chosen sign. Only a few orphans remain unaffected by the attacks to stand against their enemies, but stand they will, and Brenda with them. (Tor, Nov., 368 pp., $24.95)