When 15-year-old Elliott moves with his sick mother to live with his grandfather in New Orleans, he discovers that he is still bullied because of the strange weblike markings on his hands and feet. His grandfather tries to ease the boy's alienation by revealing a secret hidden in the basement of the family mansion. There Elliott discovers the portal to another world where he is recognized as one of the last of the Shamalans, amphibious wielders of magic. Moreover, his power is needed to save this world from evil forces. Cardiologist Smith launches a fantasy epic that draws from many mythologies and incorporates creatures not usually seen in standard fantasies: Sasquatch, gargoyles, and prehistoric Neanderthal-like species. VERDICT Well conceived and simply told, this debut fantasy adventure should appeal to the same readers who love Terry Brooks's early Shannara novels. Suitable for adult as well as YA readers.