Endling: The Last

Byx’s life has gone in an unexpected direction. His family has just been murdered, he is left to wander in a strange land with even stranger company and he is about to be caught up in the nefarious politics of humans.

Katherine Applegate’s Endling is the first book in a fantasy series set in a world of humans, animals and species somewhat in-between. Our protagonist Byx could easily be mistaken for a dog except he can stand on his hind legs and talk to humans. He is the last of a race called Dairnes who are highly sought after for both their beautiful fur and their preternatural abilities to tell if someone is lying.

A young and surly creature, Byx is a fine host for this lively world and through the course of the book he assembles a charming ragtag team who have a winning back and forth dialogue. A favourite of this reviewer was Tobble, a cattle like creature whose enthusiasm for the quest overcomes his limited abilities. The world building is unobtrusive and there is a real sense of place as the heroes are chased through marshes, cities and treacherous woods.

Fantasy fans will be at home in this tale of secrets, twists and chosen ones. Ironically for a story of an endling (the scientific term for the last of a species), this book is the surefooted beginning of a thrilling adventure.