Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope
By Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf
Published by Pushkin Children's Books
ISBN 978 1 78269 035 1
The chances are you won't have heard the name Oksa Pollock, but you should remember it: if the world of YA fiction is fair, it will be only a matter of time before Oksa is up there with Katniss Everdeen and Harry Potter as the teen everyone wants to know.
Oksa has earned thousands of fans all over Europe, and with this excellent English translation of her first adventure, she is poised to take on the rest of the reading world.
And rightly so. Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope is something special. Mumblings that this is a female Potter are inevitable but largely unfair, because The Last Hope has a style, outstanding characters and a story arc all its own.
Teenagers in Russia, Germany, Spain and France have been gobbling up Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf's quirky, gripping stories for several years, and now English-speakers can, too. The first two of six novels in the series are already available in English, with the third due out this spring.
Oksa is a fairly average French teenager. Her family has just moved to London to open a restaurant with the parents of her best friend Gus. Oksa is determined to make the most of the sudden changes in her life. She's a bit nervous about things like starting a new school, but with Gus there to share the challenges, it will be exciting.
But soon after arriving in London, events begin to take on a bizarre turn: Oksa discovers that she has strange new powers.
Suddenly she finds she can shoot fire from her fingertips, and move an object just by thinking about it. Most worrying of all, a curious symbol has appeared on her stomach. It is time for someone to tell ordinary Oksa what is going on and explain to her the mysteries of her birthright.
Step forward grandmother Dragomira, who has quite a story to tell. The Pollock family is not French at all; they're exiles from Edefia, an invisible magical realm which is hidden on Earth by a barrier of light that ordinary humans cannot break through. When war broke out there, the Pollocks had to flee, and now Oksa is their only hope of returning to their homeland. But what will they find if they do?
The Last Hope promises much for what is hopefully to follow. Packed with colourful characters, strange creatures, twists and turns and evil villains, Plichota and Wolf have come up with a totally enthralling blockbuster.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com.