“Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job—entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time—but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by… mermaids? Worse yet, this happens in front of his new crush, Leo, the dreamy football star who just moved to town.
When he discovers his eccentric employer Pavel Chudinov is an intermediary between the human world and its myths, Bridger is plunged into a world of pixies, werewolves, and Sasquatch. The realm of myths and magic is growing increasingly unstable, and it is up to Bridger to ascertain the cause of the chaos, eliminate the problem, and help his boss keep the real world from finding the world of myths.” (via Goodreads)
This was a lucky find. I don’t recall how I first heard about it, but it sounded fun enough to check out from my public library. And my goodness what a pleasant surprise! Besides the monstrous beasties, Bridger is dealing with some pretty big issues for a teen. He knows he’s not straight, but isn’t quite sure exactly where he fits on the spectrum. His father is absent entirely, and his mom has to double-shift to make ends meet. The whole reason he takes the job with Pavel in the first place is because without it he can’t afford to go to an out-of-state college – which he mostly wants to go to because he feels like he can’t be his true self at home.
Pavel starts off as a trope – the distracted, aloof, mysterious supernatural detective – and becomes so much more. In many ways, he becomes a father-figure for Bridger. He takes Bridger under his wing and opens his mind. Pavel believes in his young apprentice, and knows Bridger is capable of more than he thinks he is. Bridger doesn’t undergo a seismic shift in personality, but he does grow up a lot. When the book opens, he’s a squirrely teenager and by the end he’s a confident young adult. FT. Lukens is really good at subtle character development. Even Pavel and Leo come out of it better people. Their shifts are slighter, but it’s enough to make you really feel for them. In short, I loved just hanging out with the whole cast of characters, human and supernatural alike.
Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic reminded me a lot of the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s light and silly and sweet, a solid mystery with big enough stakes to mean something but not so heavy that it turns into a dark drama. But that’s not to say the novel is empty-headed fluff, either. Think Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda but with supernatural creatures. It’s a fun, quick, meaningful read I’ve been recommending right and left.
Bridger couldn’t help but smile as he thought about it; his whole body was alight and warm. He was going to ask him to Homecoming. It was only a week away, and Leo may already have a date, but Bridger was going to ask him. He was going to do it. Today. After practice. Yes.
Bridger stretched, basking in the sun, and lazily watched the activities on the field. The football players ran plays. The field hockey girls practiced. The cheerleaders did backflips. The track team jumped hurdles. A large black dog stalked the tree line.
Bridger sat up so fast he almost fell off the bleachers. He banged his elbow on the metal, but it barely registered.
Oh, please, no. Please don’t be real.
But there, in the shadows of the adjoining woods, prowled a large black wild animal. It was huge, the size of the cougars Bridger had seen at the zoo, but instead of slick fur, it was shaggy; its coat was more like a bear’s than a dog’s. Twin horns sprouted from its head, curling around the side of its face. And it was pure black, so dark that it seemed to absorb every ounce of light—except for its eyes, which were red and slitted and glowing. It noticed Bridger watching, and it pulled back its lip in a snarl, fangs dripping and sharp. Its tail twitched, but it kept to the trees, as if there was a line it could not cross.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.