The Taken is an exciting adventure of a fox trying to find her family after they mysteriously disappeared one night. Author Iserles has created a nuanced world around the foxes and their bit of magic, “foxcraft”. And heroine Isla is resourceful and strong. Several plot twists and turns make for an exciting read in this first in the series.
Story: Isla’s family is missing; in their she finds a skulk of evil foxes lead by an especially mean vixen. With a dream as a reference, Isla journeys into the City to follow clues and hopefully find her parents and missing brother. For Isla and her brother are special: they were born in the Spring rather than the Summer and the foxcraft magic runs especially strong in them. Strong enough to make them a target for those who would steal their will and turn them into dull eyed “taken.” As Isla faces the perils of the city – cars, animal control, dogs, and more – she will find a friend in a mysterious fox who may or may not have her best interest at heart. But her greatest danger is with the vixen who wants to steal Isla’s special foxcraft.
The magic system is quite intriguing. Skills include karakking (imitating the call of other creatures), slimmering (create the illusion of invisibility), wa’akkir (shapeshifting to other animals), Ma a-sharm (healing), and gerr a-sharm (sharing between foxes). Some foxes are better at some skills than others so it is interesting to see how these were used in the book. There are also classes and structures – from an historical leader Black Fox to a secret society of elders. The book straddles the line between life in the wilds for the foxes and then the struggle against the ‘hairless’ humans and the city. Both the mythology and the magic make for an engrossing read. The setting is contemporary.
The story is told in the first person from Isla’s perspective. Unlike series such as the Warrior Cats or Guardian Herd, this is the story of one fox independent of a group or clan. Although some foxes do band together in skulks, for the most part this is the story of one independent fox trying to solve the mystery of her family’s sudden and heartbreaking disappearance.
There are hints about what will happen in later books; most especially that Isla and her brother Pirie have very special foxcraft abilities that will make them a constant target. Isla will not only have to find her brother but also protect him from those of her own kind that will prey upon him.
The above summary is from my 11 year old who read and enjoyed the book. She heartily recommends it. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.