Reviewed by Karin Perry for TeensReadToo.com
Nikki has a good life. She has a supportive group of friends, there are only a couple of days left in the school year, and the guy she has been crushing on forever has just asked her out. Nothing she has ever experienced has prepared her for an encounter with an evil sorcerer or for the knowledge that her best friend, Robert, is involved in, what Nikki can only describe as, a nightmare.
Even though things are going good for Nikki, there are some problems she is dealing with. The biggest and most important problem she has is that any time a person of the opposite sex touches her, even if it is only her little finger, she feels excruciating pain and nausea. This is causing her some concern since she is supposed to be going out with Dale, the object of her longtime crush, to an end-of-the-school-year bash. How can you go to a party where dancing will probably be expected when you can't even touch your date without the fear of getting sick all over him? The second issue she has started dealing with recently is the fact that she's been thinking about Robert, her best friend since seventh grade, in ways that friends don't think of each other. For instance, how good he looks without a shirt on, or the way his hair looks when it sticks up in the
front, or how his sparkling green eyes look so bright. This problem only gets worse when she accidentally touches Robert one day at school and realizes that she doesn't feel pain when he touches her.
Her life gets even more complicated when her older sister, Andrea, invites her new boyfriend over to their house for dinner to meet the family. Alerro is captivating and seems to have a magical way of holding everyone's attention. When dinner is over and he starts to leave after a wonderful evening with the family, he stops to touch everyone briefly on the cheek as a farewell. Nikki was so entranced she couldn't stop him if she wanted to, but once his hand was on her face, she felt a slight tingle, but nothing like the pain that should have been running through her body.
The next day at school, the minute Robert saw her, he knew she'd been touched. Robert demanded to know who did it. Nikki was flabbergasted because there wasn't a visible sign of Alerro's touch at all. Robert told her it was a mark of protection and that she was in danger. Robert told her that Alerro was a werewolf and her and her whole family would be in danger as long as they continued to associate with Alerro. Nikki, of course, didn't take this news very well. There are no such things as werewolves, right? Robert asked Nikki to take a warning to Alerro, telling him, "Dominus knows he's here and that he wants Alerro back." Nikki refused to give such a crazy warning to her sister's new boyfriend, so Robert had to let Alerro know his protection mark was tampered with. Using some of his own power, Robert jolted Nikki with some energy that acted like a punch to the stomach. Their argument was heard by some teachers and Robert was sent to the principal's office and Nikki was sent to the nurse. Thinking Robert attacked Nikki, the principal expelled him from school. Nikki felt awful, but was also angry at Robert for making up such a lie about Alerro.
Nikki was relieved when she got home that afternoon. She just wanted to be alone in her room and forget about everything that had happened. Andrea was going out with Alerro, so she would have time alone at home with no one to bother her. Nikki didn't plan on talking to Alerro at all when he came by to pick up her sister. She knew what Robert was saying was outrageous, but when Andrea yelled her final goodbye, Nikki couldn't help but jump off her bed and run to the door to get a look at Alerro, just to see if he could tell Robert had messed with the so-called protection he placed on her and her family. The minute Alerro laid eyes on her he knew. He immediately came back inside the house and asked if she was okay and questioned her about the person who had hurt her. Nikki was overwhelmed with the fact that Robert had told the truth. She immediately told Andrea and Alerro everything Robert had asked her to say. After she finished, Alerro told them he needed to show them something. He went to the bathroom and came out with nothing but a towel around his waist. Shocked into silence, both Andrea and Nikki could only sit and stare as Alerro transformed before their eyes into a beautiful wolf. After changing back into human form, Alerro told them everything. How Dominus is an evil sorcerer seeking something that will help him to destroy the world. How Alerro's father Josef was his familiar for years. How Alerro was captured by Dominus in hopes of getting Josef to come out of hiding after he left Dominus' service. How Robert has been Dominus' familiar since Josef left. Nikki had a hard time listening to the story. She felt betrayed by Robert and wondered why he would pretend to be her best friend for so many years. Nikki knew there would be a battle; she just hoped Robert ended up on the right side. Truly, she couldn't imagine her life without him in it.
Jenine Wilson tells a wonderful story. Nikki is a believable character that the reader falls in love with right away. MY FAMILIAR has a great balance of reality and fantasy that will appeal to anyone, even if they aren't a huge fantasy fan. Realistic teen issues like dating and social acceptance are intermingled with the larger problem of saving the world from total destruction. MY FAMILIAR wraps up nicely, leaving the reader satisfied with the ending. However, a case could be made for a sequel, but it definitely isn't necessary for the completion of this story.