This is the first in a new series, "Wing and Claw". Raffa lives with his parents and extended family in a town by the "Forest of Wonders." His family are apothecaries, and Raffa has a special gift for mixing up curative poultices and infusions. One day he finds a rare red vine and when he feeds it to an injured bat, the bat suddenly gains the ability to speak. The leader of the Commons, the ruling class, invites Raffa and his family to the wealthy political seat to work on a special project. With the help of newfound friends, Raffa figures out what the special project is and who is behind its evil purpose.
Linda Sue Park won the Newbery with A Single Shard, but has written quite a few other children's novels. This is a pretty good middle grade fantasy. A couple of times I wondered if the main character was going to do something stupid, but Raffa manages to avoid the worst mistakes. Raffa's friends and family members are well drawn and complex characters. Each has ethical dilemma's and Park resists the temptation to draw a clear line between right and wrong. I didn't love love love this book, but I might be interested in reading the next in the series when it is released. (242 p.)