The Faustian Host by Dave BeckerMy rating: Fantasy
The Faustian Host is a lively YA fantasy about a teenage boy whose luck takes a dramatic turn for the worse when his grandmother dies. Tony has had a lonely childhood, an orphan with only his elderly grandma for company, but that's nothing compared to the isolation he suffers at his new school - as strange happenings seem to follow him around, and his classmates decide he must be cursed.
Tony's initial approach is to face down any suggestion of the supernatural with a disdainful sneer and an increasingly desperate appeal to logic. As Kalos Academy (Tony's new school) is supposedly a centre of excellence for gifted youngsters, it surprised me that Tony was the only one to adopt this view. I really liked his rational approach, and enjoyed watching his certainty begin to waver as events get weirder over the course of the story. Unfortunately, one thing Tony really isn't is likeable - to his peers or the reader - and even his childhood misfortunes don't quite excuse his tendency to lash out at his friends. This makes him an interesting character, but not one you'd want to spend much time with.
Not everything about the characters feels believable, and in places there are minor inconsistencies (for instance, the Browns tell Tony that families move from all over so their children can attend Kalos, but it's later important that he's the only newcomer to the area). But events unfold at a relentless pace, making for a fast and breathless read which carried me along in spite of these niggles. There are lots of questions left unanswered by the end, but hopefully these will be addressed in future volumes - the story clearly isn't over yet.