If you want to solve a complicated murder, everyone knows you need a forensic sorcerer. If you want to solve it without a serious headache, that sorcerer had better not be fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson. Frank is called in when the Bishop of Oxford is found at his desk one morning, lacking one major attribute: his head.
Undeniably a genius, Frank is not a people person; his most notable talent is, unfortunately, getting on people’s nerves. Along with his investigative partner, Marvell, who has her own agenda, Frank sets out to solve the bishop’s murder his way, stepping on as many toes as possible, and breaking every rule in the book.
Gifted takes a while to get off the ground. The characterisation of Frank is unique, authentic and interesting, but his inner monologue, while an asset and very unlike most of what is already out there in YA, is meandering and takes a while to get used to. The construction of Gifted’s Oxford mirrors its main character’s voice; this is not a world that the reader will immediately settle into and feel they know, and it takes some time to get a real sense of how it all fits together. Once you have your bearings, though, Gifted is a gripping whodunit fantasy with an unexpected twist that tackles some pertinent teen issues along the way. Not one for impatient readers, but well worth sticking with.