Troubletwisters is the first volume in a collaborative series from Australian YA superstars Garth Nix and Sean Williams, and it's as marvellous as its pedigree suggests.
The titular troubletwisters are a pair of adolescent twins who find themselves moving from their family home the city to the remote town of Portland, where they are to live with their mysterious Grandma X. On arrival, young Jaide and Jack quickly discover that their father's family isn't quite like any other, and that the stern and weird Grandma X may or may not be looking out for their best interests. There's magic afoot, and it's the wild, untamed magic that threatens to devour them.
From what Jack and Jaide can gather, their family expects them to come into some powers of their own, through a series of tests and trials, but they can't be sure whether the tribulations they face while exploring Portland are trials set by their grandmother or attacks from some force working against them (and Grandma X isn't saying, but it's pretty clear that she's not being entirely forthright with them -- would clouds of cockroaches really swarm the twins and nearly drag them to the ground just because they'd used some kind of perfumed soap?).
Though the device of young magicians coming into their powers is a timeworn one, Nix and Williams are the kind of clever, fleet-of-foot YA writers who can make it really dance. The story kept me guessing right up to the end, and the progression of imaginative gross and grisly confrontations between the twins and their magical enemies are sure to delight and fascinate both older and younger readers.
And though the story does arrive at a conclusion, it's also clearly not the end of Jaide and Jack's tale: it's a damned promising start to a great new series.