Maria E. Benzant’s Wingblade: The Gift of Nature, is a young adult contemporary fantasy novel about Kyle, a boy growing up in remote Alaska with supernatural abilities.
At age four, Kyle miraculously survives a dog attack unscathed; at eight, he mysteriously saves his family from an accident. Seeing Kyle’s unusual power, his father seeks out Slade, a mountain-dweller knowledgeable in the supernatural. Slade recognizes Kyle for what he is: a “wingblade,” who by age 13 will be nearly impervious to harm, develop psychic abilities, and commune with nature and animals. Indeed, Kyle and others like him are fated to help restore a critical “balance.” So over the next five years, Slade trains Kyle, testing him, preparing him to face a dangerous adversary.
While an interesting conceit, the story is hampered by several issues. Sometimes, characters’ reactions are hard to believe. Kyle is a precocious boy, thrust into a hero’s journey; it seems odd that his parents are so understanding of it all. They are willing to relinquish their only child to a mysterious stranger with unexplained credentials, and they don’t blink when Slade sends them home with a wolf cub to act as Kyle’s “mascot” (a term the author uses for “companion” or “familiar”).
There are also many mysteries in Wingblade: What exactly is the role of wingblades? How does Slade know so much about them? And what does the author mean by “balance”? Kyle asks these questions, but Slade always delays explanation, and the explanations given are partial at best. Some never come at all.
The story is also marred by abundant syntax problems, wrong words (e.g. using “sensible” for “sensitive”) or nonsensical words (“formularize”). And all of the characters, including Kyle, are generic archetypes, with nothing personal or distinct about them.
Ultimately, little actually happens in Wingblade, with missions teased but never fully executed. This, along with the other issues noted, make this a disappointing read overall.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.