Crow hatches to an empty house. Where's Periwinkle, the eleven-year-old witch he's supposed to bond with? Where's the rest of her family? Crow's so anxious he could tear his own feathers out. Familiars only have until midnight before they lose the ability to bond. If he doesn't bond, he'll not only miss out on love and magic, he won't get to share the lifespan of his witch. Regular crows only live about seventeen years. Crow doesn't want to die a teenager!
The only one in the house is Cat, the familiar assigned to bond with Periwinkle's twin brother. Cat hasn't seen anyone either. All she knows is that it looks like the family left in a hurry. They discover the reason--Peri's been rushed to the hospital. Using Cat's street smarts and Crow's book-learning (he had an excellent in-shell education via Birds On Tape), they trek across town. When they arrive, they find Peri is deathly ill and it wasn't just an accident. It was attempted murder.
Crow's mother is frantic for him to bond with a new witch. But Crow's discovered a witness to the attack--a snail saw it all. If Crow bonds with Peri, he'll have enough magic to find the snail, investigate the crime, and discover why Peri's not getting better. The risks are huge--if they're bonded, Crow will die when Peri does. Forget dying a teenager--Crow might not live until tomorrow! Still, no one else can do it. Human police don't even have snail-sized interrogation chairs. Only Crow, together with Cat, can solve the mystery and save Periwinkle before the attempted killer attacks again.
The Unfamiliars is a 32K middle-grade fantasy which is stand-alone but leads naturally into a series. Comps. Creds. Etc.