This debut novel from college sophomore Bowling is, unfortunately, so derivative and cliched that well-read fantasy readers will have difficulty enjoying, or even finishing, it. The characters are whiny and unsympathetic, and the plot is so predictable that many readers will likely have a strong sense of deja vu -- there are only so many ways to write quest fantasy.

Bad things are coming to the land of Ellynrie, and it falls to three teenagers and a couple of adults to save the world from a great evil. Consisting of a former mercenary, a young and inexperienced magician, the mercenary's daughter and a humble orphan, the group bands together to battle a demon who has helped to destroy countless lives. (Del Rey, Jan., 304 pp., $19.95)

Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs