Shadows by Robin McKinley
Maggie’s new stepfather gives her the creeps. Not only is he short and hairy and definitely not her Dad, but he speaks with a strange accent and spends most of his time in a shed doing who-knows-what. True, it is not his fault that he cannot replace her dead father, and her mother seems to really, really love him, but somehow that only makes worse the Shadows that follow him everywhere—dozens of them that no one else seems to see.
Maggie knows living on Newworld means turning your back on magic. It’s all science here, and in a try at keeping magic from breaking through into their world, the powers that be have completely outlawed it. A couple of generations back, it was decided that the best way to have no magicians was to get rid of the gene that certain families carry. No, they didn’t go in for genocide--not exactly, anyway. They just did an operation on every person to get rid of the DNA that might lead to there being magicians among them.
The program was reported to be a total success. Kids are tested every few years just to make sure they don’t carry those weird genes anymore. Maggie has passed every test they’ve given her, so why is she seeing Shadows?
Otherwise, she’s got a pretty good life. Her best friend Jill is always there for her, along with her beloved mutt Mongo. So what if her grade school friend Takahiro has become even more standoffish while growing up gigantic and a genius? Everything moves at a well-ordered pace, day-in and day-out. The authorities have everything under control—most of the time. It’s just that every so often the magic breaks through and tries to break their world.
Award-winning author Robin McKinley has done a wonderful job of creating a different yet familiar setting filled with people worth knowing in dangerous situations. There’s suspense, action, and, yes, more than a touch of well-done romance.