Holly, a grey squirrel, and her animal friends have accepted that they will never be wizards’ familiars. Though they are each magical, their powers are so offbeat—Holly herself can conjure pastries (and only pastries)—that no professional magic-worker would choose any of them as a companion for noble quests. So instead of going on adventures, they languish at the Shelter for Rejected Familiars, where they are known as “shelterlings.”
When an old friend appears with a plan for curing the shelterlings defective magic, everyone is on board to help him locate and retrieve the ingredients for a powerful spell. But when they learn that his offer is not what it seems, Holly and the shelterlings must fight to defend their magic, discovering that their unorthodox skills may just be what is needed to save the day.
I don’t know about you, but being able to conjure up pastries sounds like an awesome power. Especially if you’re throwing a last-minute dinner party.
But according to the wizards, the shelterlings magic is ‘useless,’ and they are mistakes. I feel like how the wizards treated the shelterlings mirrors how society treats disabled people or really anyone different. They are deemed too difficult to handle and are shoved aside. I have first-hand experience with this. But just because you don’t meet someone else’s expectations doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. You just have to learn to work with what you got. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone but yourself.
Holly is truly an inspiring little squirrel. In every situation, all she wants to do is help. She cares so much about the other shelterlings, helping them practice their magic and to feel at home at the shelter. I want her to be my familiar. I’ve always wanted an animal sidekick who could ride on my shoulder.
I loved all of the shelterlings and all of their unconventional abilities. To keep track of everyone, I made a list of all their names, their power, and what type of animal they are. I recommend doing the same because there are twenty-two different animal residents, and it’s hard to remember who is who.
It’s true that some of the shelterlings powers do appear unhelpful in a serious situation. But I’ve learned that any skill can be useful in the right situation. For example, many of their abilities could be used as distractions for quick escapes.
Overall, this is a marvelous story with powerful messages that I recommend to all young fantasy lovers.