Tag Archives: fantasy

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. September 25, 2018. Delacorte Press, 304 p. ISBN: 9780525577973.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

The Frankenstein legend as you’ve never seen it before, as told by New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White! You will not be able to put down this stunning and dark reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic told from the point of view of Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s adopted sister, timed for the 200th anniversary.

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. Elizabeth Lavenza knows her place: she’s the calming influence over Victor Frankenstein’s violent moods, and if she stops being useful to the Frankensteins, she’ll have nowhere to go. When Victor stops writing letters from university in Ingolstadt, Elizabeth, who’s terrified of becoming unnecessary, sets out to track him down. What she finally discovers is gruesome, albeit awe-inspiring, but her instinct to protect him is impossible to fight. As Victor’s actions become more deranged, however, Elizabeth can’t bring herself to be a willing accomplice. In this clever retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, White neatly undercuts the original by making Victor’s narrative wildly unreliable. Elizabeth, who’s a minor character in Shelley’s novel, takes center stage here, and her development is the emotional heart of the story. After enduring years of gaslighting by both Victor Frankenstein and his father, she gradually comes to realize her own strength and becomes powerful in her own right. While readers of the original might get more out of it, this character-driven novel with a healthy amount of gore should appeal to horror fans, too.

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2018)
White’s (Bright We Burn, 2018, etc.) timely retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is told from the point of view of 17-year-old Elizabeth Lavenza, ward of the Frankensteins and caretaker of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth’s childhood was full of loss and despair. In the Frankenstein home she was cared for as long as she socialized Victor and kept him calm, but he has gone off to study and fallen out of contact. Without him, she feels her future is uncertain, as he was the reason for her existence in his family’s home. Fearing that she will be once again destitute, Elizabeth convinces her friend Justine to travel with her to find Victor and bring him back. What Elizabeth finds rocks her to her core, and, fearing for Victor’s safety and future, she does all she can to protect him. But what if the monster she truly fears is not the misshapen monstrosity of Victor’s creation but something with a more human form? White creates an exciting tale with strong, witty, and certainly flawed, white female protagonists. Readers will ponder whether monsters are beings that are outwardly frightening or if it is one’s soul, or lack thereof, that makes one a true monster. Those familiar with the original story will enjoy the references to it scattered throughout. An all-around win for readers who enjoy (not too scary) horror, thrilling tales, and contemplating the deeper meaning of life. (Fiction. 15-18)

About the Author

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including And I Darken, Now I Rise, Bright We Burn, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and Slayer.

She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows. Her website is www.kierstenwhite.com

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Someday by David Levithan

Someday by David Levithan. October 2, 2018. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780399553066.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: 4.1; Lexile: 720.

Teenage witch Cam isn’t crazy about the idea of learning magic. She’d rather be no witch than a bad one. But when a trio of her mother’s wicked witch friends decide to wreak havoc in her high school, Cam has no choice but to try to stop them.

Esmerelda is the mean girl of the witches. Valda likes to drop anvils on people’s heads. And Malkin—well, Malkin is just plain terrifying. Their idea of fun is a little game—they each pick a student from Cam’s high school and compete to see who can make their teen the most miserable. But Cam suspects one of the witches may have an ulterior motive…which means someone at school could be in worse danger yet.

Now Cam’s learning invisibility spells, dodging exploding cars, and pondering the ethics of love potions. All while trying to keep her grades up and go on a first date with her crush. If the witches don’t get him first, that is.

Can’t a good witch ever catch a break?

Sequel to: Another Day

Part of Series: Every Day (Book #3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Discussion of domestic abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Here is the third thought-provoking novel about Levithan’s intriguing character A, the 16-year-old boy (or is he a boy?) who wakes up each day in a different body. As before, he is in love with a girl named Rhiannon, but, given his here-today-gone-tomorrow condition, he wonders how anything could come of his love for her. Accordingly, he has cut off contact and she misses him terribly so she—in concert with Nathan, whose body A had once occupied—begins to search for him. Unfortunately, someone else is also searching for him: X, a psychopath who had previously occupied the body of the evil Reverend Poole, who is now dead. Happily, Rhiannon and Nathan find A first and he and Rhiannon reconnect. But there is much to think about in their reunion. What does the word relationship mean for them? Can they maintain their connection? A also questions his condition of being, the ethics of occupying someone else’s body, and whether or not there are others like him (there are, and Levithan takes readers inside their lives). Things become even more complicated when X, whose condition is identical to A’s, finally tracks him down. Like the other two books about A, this is a novel of ideas that challenges readers to wonder if someday there will be another novel about these wonderful characters. One hopes so.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
In Every Day (rev. 11/12) and Another Day (rev. 7/15), we learned that A wakes up each morning in a different person’s body. Someday alternates between A’s point of view and the perspectives of those affected by A (love interest Rhiannon; former “host” Nathan) as well as other “body travelers”—including X, who inhabited Reverend Poole in the earlier books. X has learned to game the system, controlling how long he stays in each new body and treating the bodies’ original inhabitants with disregard, at best. (Though A is gender-neutral, X identifies as male even on days he presents as female.) X’s creepy quest for power adds tension without sacrificing the series’ emphasis on character; the more-considerate A offers insights into each day’s host. The presence of multiple body travelers also brings perspective on how the traveling works and how it intersects with personal identity. Some preachiness combined with an “Equality March” on Washington make the continued themes of people’s commonalities and the need for understanding of differences easy to spot, but at the same time, suspense makes it easy to keep turning pages.

About the Author

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children’s book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

His website is www.davidlevithan.com/

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Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold. October 2, 2018. Balzer + Bray, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062742322.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Cruelty to animals, Sexual assault, Misogyny

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 10-12. A prince ventures into the wilderness to slay a dragon and save a damsel. When he returns home with his rescued bride, he becomes king. That is how it has been in the kingdom of Harding, and how it will always be. Sound familiar? Perhaps, but it’s not how this story ends. The first thing Ama knows is waking up in Prince Emory’s arms as they ride toward his home. “I saved you,” he tells her, and though she has no memory of the thing he saved her from, she believes him. In his castle, as their wedding approaches, she learns to become the perfect queen: calm, obedient, gentle. Ama works at becoming small, but flashes of memory are starting to return to her, and there is more in this castle—and in her heart—than can be contained. Arnold’s (What Girls Are Made Of, 2017) pitch-black fairy tale is not subtle in its delivery, but, as its volcanic ending attests, this is not a tale that requires subtlety. It’s not an easy read: physical, sexual, and psychological violence all come into play, and adults may want to be on hand for discussions. But for teens, especially girls, learning to transform sadness and fear into active, productive fury, it’s an essential allegory. Eat your heart out, Sleeping Beauty: this brutal, devastating, powerful novel won’t soon be forgotten.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
Arnold (Bat and the Waiting Game, 2018, etc.) blends an abusive romance-novel relationship and intense feminist and patriarchal imagery with the classic storyline of a prince saving a damsel from the lair of a dragon. In a gray, medieval world, Prince Emory of Harding makes his way toward a dragon’s lair to rescue a damsel and make her his bride, in the process bringing light to the land and glory upon himself. The damsel cannot recall who she is, and so Emory names her Ama. They return to Harding, where Prince Emory is crowned king, and his mother announces they will be wed in a few months’ time, and Ama will give birth to his heir. Ama must learn how to be a queen and is reminded repeatedly that Emory’s desires are what matters—she is never allowed to forget that he “saved” her. When she does not comply with his wishes, she is brutally and sadistically punished, sexually, psychologically, and physically. What if, instead of being the hero’s beloved, you are your abuser’s captive? The symbolism and imagery, as well as the meaning of the sexual violence that is perpetrated upon Ama, may go over the heads of less sophisticated readers. All characters are white. While Arnold has written a compelling flipped fairy tale and commentary on misogyny, she’s missed the mark for her intended audience. (Fiction. 15-adult)

About the Author

Elana K. Arnold writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis where she has taught Creative Writing and Adolescent Literature. Her most recent YA novel, What Girls Are Made Of, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle grade novel, A Boy Called Bat, is a Junior Library Guild Selection. A parent and educator living in Huntington Beach, California, Elana is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and writers’ conferences.

Currently, Elana is the caretaker of seven pets, only three of which have fur.  Her website is www.elanakarnold.com.

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The Backward Season by Lauren Myracle

The Backward Season by Lauren Myracle. April 3, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 304 p. ISBN: 9780062342126.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.4; Lexile: 630.

From beloved and bestselling author Lauren Myracle comes the emotional conclusion to the Wishing Day trilogy, perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo and Ingrid Law.

Now that her sisters Natasha and Darya have had their turn, Ava Blok finally gets her Wishing Day. But after seeing the unintended consequences of the wishes her sisters made, she’s not sure what to wish for. The only thing she’s certain of is that it’s her job to set things right.

Hopeful that she can put her broken family back together, and eager to prove her pessimistic older sisters wrong, Ava realizes that fixing the future means changing the past.

Will the journey her wishes take her on end up costing her everything?

Sequel to: The Forgetting Spell

Part of Series: Wishing Day (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 4-7. According to local tradition, the girls of Willow Hill are granted three wishes when they turn 13. Aware that previous wishes (magical or not) have caused pain, loss, and heartbreak within her family, Ava attempts to use hers to set things right. She emerges as a strong-minded character and a credible agent of change, completing the long-range story arc from the previous volumes in the Wishing Day trilogy. Layered in time, the narrative includes flashbacks revealing a girl’s experiences during the previous generation, as well as a climactic time-travel sequence that is pivotal in bringing the series to its satisfying conclusion.

About the Author

Lauren Myracle is the author of numerous young adult novels. She was born in 1969 in North Carolina. Lauren Myracle holds an MA in English from Colorado State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. she has written many novels, including the famous IM books, ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r.

Her first novel, Kissing Kate, was selected as one of ALA’s “Best Books for Young Adults” for the year 2004. It was named by Booklist as one of the “Top Ten Youth Romances” of the year, as well as one of the “Top Ten Books by New Writers.” Her middle-grade novel, Eleven, came out 2004, followed by its YA sequels (Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One) .

Her website is www.laurenmyracle.com

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The Backward Season on Amazon

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Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour

Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue by Jeff Seymour. May 15, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524738655.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 760.

From debut author Jeff Seymour and bestselling illustrator Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events) comes this breathtaking fantasy adventure, starring an extraordinary new heroine and set in an unforgettable world where ships can fly.

It takes a very special crew to keep the cloudship Orion running, and no one knows that better than Nadya Skylung, who tends the cloud garden that keeps the ship afloat. When the unthinkable happens and pirates attack, Nadya and the other children aboard–all orphans taken in by the kindhearted Captain Nic–narrowly escape, but the rest of the crew is captured. Alone and far from help, only Nadya and her four brave and loyal friends can take back the Orion and rescue the crew. And she’ll risk life and limb to save the only family she’s ever known. But . . . this attack was no accident. What exactly are the pirates looking for? Could it be Nadya they’ve been after all along?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Grades 6-8. Nadya and the others aboard the cloudship Orion are orphans taken in by Captain Nic until the day they can run their own ships. Nadya dreams of one day leaving the security of the cloud garden and becoming first mate, until the ship is attacked by pirates. When the crew is taken hostage, Nadya and her friends must risk their lives to save them. This brilliantly characterized debut features heroes who are well-rounded and layered; each come from tragic circumstances, but their connection is genuine and emotional as they deal with realistic conflicts and daily life aboard the ship. Opinionated Nadya often fails to see others’ perspectives, but as she learns to put aside their differences in order to honestly understand her teammates, it’s easy to form a real connection with her. An impressive read that explores ideas of what bravery means though rich writing, vivid descriptions, and a strong voice. Readers will be eager to explore this breathtaking and dangerous steampunk world set in the sky.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
Nadya Skylung, an orphan, was rescued by the cloudship Orion’s captain, Nic, as were the other orphans who are in the crew: Tam, Tian Li, Pepper, and Salyeh. In the cloudship’s garden, Nadya helps fellow skylung Mrs. Trachia take care of the special plants and animals that help keep the vessel aloft. As the book opens, Nadya hopes to be named first mate. Then the worst happens: Pirates attack the Orion. They are looking for skylungs, and Nadya fears they are looking for her. The action’s both nonstop and circular: The adults sacrifice themselves so that the children can escape, and then the children execute a daring rescue to save them. Nadya gets some but not all of her questions answered, leaving room for a sequel. The built world is complicated, with elaborate biological mechanisms that power the cloudship and humans with special properties to run it. With geography and naming conventions vaguely analogous to our own, Seymour constructs a racially diverse cast around Nadya, who presents white. The language he uses to describe his characters of color is sometimes poorly chosen: Tian Li is rather opaquely described as having “sandstone-colored skin,” and, worse, Salyeh is described as having skin “the dark brown of burning paper.” While the worldbuilding can be heavy-handed and confusing at times, readers who love action-adventure stories will enjoy reading about Nadya and her friends. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Jeff Seymour writes hopeful, heartfelt fantasy that blends modern characters with timeless plots and offers something new and fantastic on every page. His debut middle-grade novel, Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, will be published by Putnam Young Readers in 2018, and his epic fantasy Soulwoven got over a million reads while being featured on Wattpad. In his day job as a freelance editor, Jeff helps shape and clean up stories for a talented roster of bestselling sci-fi and fantasy authors as well as newcomers to the business. In his free time, he plays more video games than he should, serves as support team to a wife with an incredible career of her own, pretends he knows anything about raising children, and gathers ideas for stories everywhere he goes

His website is jeff-seymour.com

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Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein

Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein. June 5, 2018. Imprint, 320 p. ISBN: 9781250146922.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.0; Lexile: 820.

Chopping blades, scorpion nests, giant spiderwebs—no one makes traps better than Wily Snare.

He has never seen the sun, or blue sky, or even his parents. Wily Snare lives underground, creating traps to keep treasure-seekers away from the gold in an ancient wizard’s dungeon. He spends his days mopping up giant slug slime, avoiding poison darts, and herding undead skeletons. It’s all he knows.

Until an unusual band of adventurers—an acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a giant made of moss—successfully defeat Wily’s traps. And they want the ultimate treasure: Wily himself. His skills can help them invade every other dungeon in the kingdom. He might even aid their fight against the Infernal King, whose gearfolk and prisonauts terrorize the land.

But for a boy who has never been outside, dungeons aren’t nearly as scary as the world above. Or an evil king who builds the trickiest traps of all . . .

Snared: Escape to the Above is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from bestselling author Adam Jay Epstein.

Part of series: Willy Snare (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 18))
Grades 3-6. An acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a moss giant walk into a dungeon. They walk out with its buried treasure, a hobgoblet, and Wily Snare, who has lived his entire life underground. Together, they embark on a journey requiring Wily’s skills as a trapsmith (think security expert) to steal treasure from other dungeons, with the goal of leaving the kingdom and escaping the evil Infernal King. But all the people Wily meets in the Above are not who they seem, and he must decide how he really wants to use his trapsmith talents. Epstein’s series starter is a fun and creative story with surprisingly deep plot twists. Readers get to experience the world for the first time with Wily, and they’ll enjoy discovering the land through his eyes. The villain is reminiscent of Valentine from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, though for a decidedly younger audience; and the ending wraps up the story nicely, so it will be interesting to see where these characters are headed next.

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2018)
Intruders in the dungeon! Five unlikely heroes unite for a treasure hunt but find themselves on a quest to save the kingdom instead. Wily Snare has spent his whole life cleaning up slime and maintaining the deadly traps in Carrion Tomb to protect the treasure hoard from foolhardy adventurers. No invaders have ever escaped capture until Odette (a cunning, blue-haired elf), Pryvyd (a one-armed ex-knight with olive skin), and Moshul (a moss golem who communicates through sign language) cheat their way past the tomb’s defenses and change Wily’s future forever. The ragtag gang of thieves whisk Wily (a white human boy) and his adopted hobgoblet sister off into the Above, a land ruled by the tyrannical Infernal King. With Wily’s expertise with traps, the group plans to plunder their way to riches and sail far away from the evil infesting their home. Wily’s naively unreliable perspective adds refreshing humor as he discovers the world doesn’t function with the predictability of a tomb full of traps. The notion of chosen family plays a significant role in the story and ultimately directs the characters on a new quest. While the group of adventurers includes two disabled characters, Pryvyd’s severed arm is enchanted (it fights independently of him), and Moshul is an object of pity. For the first book of a new series, the plot arrives at a curiously neat and abrupt resolution. A lighthearted fantasy with a strong start and a hasty conclusion. (Fantasy. 8-12)

About the Author

Adam Jay Epstein spent his childhood in Great Neck, New York, when he wasn’t aboard his father’s sailboat. He spent many days sitting in the neighborhood park, traveling to fantasy lands in his head (occasionally when he was supposed to be doing his homework). In college, he circled the world on a ship and studied film at Wesleyan University. He is the co-author of the internationally bestselling middle grade fantasy series The Familiars, the middle-grade sci-fi series Starbounders, and the middle grade fantasy series Snared. He has written film and television projects for Disney, Sony, Fox, MGM, Paramount, MTV, HULU, SYFY, and Disney Channel. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters, and dog, Pixel.

Her website is www.thefamiliars.com

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The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott. April 24, 2018. First Second, 224 p. ISBN: 9781250152558.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 2.9; Lexile: 300.

When a wealthy and sheltered young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

The first decade of the twentieth century is coming to a close, and San Francisco is still recovering from the great earthquake of 1906. Isabel watched the destruction safely from her window, sheltered within her high-society world.

Isabel isn’t the kind of girl who goes on adventures. But that all changes when she stumbles through the invisible barrier that separates the human world from the fairy world. She quickly finds herself caught up in an age-old war and fighting on the side of the Seelie—the good fairies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Allusion to cannibalism, Depiction of severed heads

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 14))
Grades 4-7. Isabel loves San Francisco, even just a few years after the terrible earthquake. When she slips into an alternate fairy city, Isabel is caught up in a war that may tear apart both the fairy land and the world of humans. On the surface, Scott’s tale is a fairly standard story about a human caught in fairy business, but she and illustrator Robinson work hard to give their story its own personality. In addition to reflecting the realistic diversity of San Francisco—Latina Isabel makes friends with Filipino Benjie, for instance—Scott and Robinson include fairykind from different world cultures, as well as some they made up to reflect both the ancient and modern worlds. Robinson’s art is equally up to the task of drawing realistic humans or fantastical fairies, and the soft color palette is comforting, even when the action is tense. The result is a story where there aren’t many good or bad creatures but, instead, good or bad choices, making this adventure a fun story with a warm heart.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Isabel, a young Latinx girl in early 20th-century San Francisco, becomes embroiled in a war between the Seelie and Unseelie fairy courts in this historical fiction/fantasy graphic novel. After the disappearance of his daughter and heir, the Seelie king is losing the war, and he sends a messenger with a powerful and mysterious necklace that was stolen from Coscar, the Unseelie king. Meanwhile, in the human world, Isabel has been sent to the country to stay with her easily distracted artist father while her high-society mother travels in Europe. When Isabel stumbles into the fairy realm and finds the fatally injured messenger, she takes up the quest to find a Seelie general on the fairy side of San Francisco and deliver the necklace. Aiding Isabel in her mission are Button, a small, mushroom-headed Seelie fairy, and Benjie, a Filipino boy of uncertain loyalties who has moved between the fairy and human worlds since he was orphaned during the 1906 earthquake. The characters are nuanced for a mostly plot-driven adventure story, especially the Unseelie fairies, who develop beyond flat antagonists. The illustrations are dynamic, with panels varying in size and scale to keep up with the fast-paced plot. The detailed backgrounds are helpful in clarifying the switches between the more realistic human world and the whimsical fairy realm. –Kacy Helwick, New Orleans Public Library

About the Author

Mairghread Scott is an animation and comicbook writer specializing in action-comedy. Her animation work spans such titles as Guardians of the GalaxyUltimate Spider-ManTransformers: Robots in Disguise, and more. You can also read her work in comic book series such as: Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers: Till All Are One, Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, and her creator-owned work Toil and Trouble. She is the author of the graphic novel Science Comics: Robots & Drones, also from First Second.

Her website is www.mscottwriter.com

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The City on the Other Side on Amazon

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Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. February 27, 2018. Random House Books for Young Readers, 544 p. ISBN: 9781101931295.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 830.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can’t seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she’s done is so disgraceful, she can’t even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess’s family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She’s not running away, she’s running towards something. What that something is, she doesn’t know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else–a life where she might belong.

Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.

Part of Series: Tess of the Road (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Religious oppression, Rape and sexual assault, Realities of pregnancy and childbirth, Alcoholism

 

Book Talk

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. In her triumphant return to the world of Seraphina (2012), Hartman introduces Tess Dombegh, one of Seraphina’s stepsiblings. After a shattering fall from grace, Tess has tried to be the dutiful daughter to her critical mother. She may never be good, but maybe she can be good enough to be forgiven. When Tess drunkenly ruins her sister’s wedding night, she’s almost relieved to run away. Disguised as a boy, she seeks oblivion on the road; instead, she’s invited to help find a legendary serpent by her childhood friend, a quigutl (dragon subspecies). Along the way, Tess runs afoul of robbers, works as a manual laborer, poses as a priest, and struggles to make peace with past trauma. First in a duology, this is a perfect example of a familiar fantasy trope being given new dimension through empathetic characters and exquisite storytelling. At first appearing bitter and self-pitying, Tess reveals compassion, courage, and resilience on her journey, which is as emotional and spiritual as it is physical. This achingly real portrayal of a young woman whose self-loathing takes help to heal is a perceptive examination of rape culture rare in high fantasy. Not to be ignored, this is also a fascinating road trip adventure. Absolutely essential.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Hartman returns to Goredd with the tale of another young woman who breaks the rules in search of herself. There are three Dombegh sisters: naughty Tess, perfect twin Jeanne, and famous, talented older sister Seraphina (of Seraphina, 2012, and Shadow Scale, 2015). Now 17, haunted by past mistakes, immersed in self-denial and the need to follow “proper” behavior, white Tess—who once befriended lizardlike Quigutl and secretly attended lectures—is miserable. After drunkenly punching her new brother-in-law at Jeanne’s wedding, Tess dresses as a boy and takes off. She travels across Goredd and Ninys in search of a Quigutl prophecy and her own purpose in a sometimes-episodic tale narrated in descriptive, sharply observant third-person prose. Angry, bitter Tess has reason for her feelings but is not always easy to walk with, and the slow reveal of her past makes for a compelling read on the ways in which girls—in the quasi-Renaissance Goredd and also in the real world—are taught to take blame on themselves even when others are culpable. Fortunately, the Road has answers (“walk on”), and by the end Tess has faced her past and can look forward to another volume of adventure, discovery, and changing her world. Like Tess’ journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment. (dramatis personae, glossary; not seen) (Fantasy. 13-adult)

About the Author

As a child, Rachel Hartman played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada.

Her website is rachelhartmanbooks.com.

Around the Web

Tess of the Road on Amazon

Tess of the Road on Goodreads

Tess of the Road Publisher Page

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna by Kelly Barnhill. March 1, 2018. Loqueleo, 424 p. ISBN: 9781641012102.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The Newbery Medal winner from the author of the highly acclaimed novel The Witch’s Boy.

Spanish translation of The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Human sacrifice, Negative attitudes toward the mentally ill

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
Grades 5-8. Every year, the elders of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to appease an evil witch—though, in truth, it’s a facade to subdue the populace. Xan, the witch in question, actually rescues each baby and finds families for them. One time, however, Xan accidentally feeds moonlight to the baby, which fills her with magic. Xan thereupon adopts her, names her Luna, and raises her with the help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Luna’s magic grows exponentially and causes such havoc that Xan casts a spell to suppress it until Luna turns 13. But the spell misfires, clouding Luna’s mind whenever magic is mentioned, making proper training impossible. As the fateful birthday approaches, Xan fears dying before she can teach Luna everything she needs to know. Meanwhile, in the Protectorate, a young couple dares to challenge the status quo, a madwoman trapped in a tower escapes by way of paper birds, and a truly evil witch is revealed. Barnhill’s latest, told in omniscient point of view, is rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity (as well as characters without any), a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2016)
Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch — a witch no one has seen, but whose reputation has become a means to control the populace. In fact, a witch does live in the forest, and she rescues and finds homes for the babies; she even adopts one, the particularly magical Luna, whom she brings home to live with her own family that already includes a beloved bog monster and a dragon. Meanwhile, the true and malevolent Witch of Sacrifice Day, hiding behind the identity of a respected person in the city, secretly feeds off the grief of the bereaved parents until, thanks to adolescent Luna’s emerging magic, the sorrow-burdened Protectorate begins to rebel. Barnhill’s fantasy has a slightly ungainly plot, with backstory, coincidence, insight-dumps, and shifting points of view maneuvering its hinges of logic into place. But in theme and emotion, it is focused: love — familial, maternal, filial, and friendly — is its engine and moral, with Luna’s connections with her adoptive grandmother and unknown birth mother a poignant force. With all story elements and characters interrelated through “infinite love” (the story’s theology), there’s plenty for readers to puzzle out here. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

“I’m a writer, a mom, a wife, a dog owner, a reader, a thinker, a hiker, a friend, a runner, a teacher, a listener, terrible gardener, a lover of nature. Sometimes I’m all of these things at once.

“I’m also a former bartender, former park ranger, former waitress, former church janitor, former kosher meat slicer, former wild-eyed activist, former wildland firefighter, former coffee jerk, former phone-book delivery girl and a former dull-eyed office slave. Sometimes I am still these things. Sometimes all at once.”

Her website is www.kellybarnhill.com

Teacher Resources

The Girl Who Drank the Moon Book Guide

Around the Web

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna on Amazon

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna on Goodreads

La Niña Que Bebió la Luna Publisher Page

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

the Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. February 6, 2018. Disney Hyperion, 440 p. ISBN: 9781484728499.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Part of Series: The Belles (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2017)
In Tiny Pretty Things co-author Clayton’s solo debut, beauty comes at a price.On their joint 16th birthday, Camellia and her five sisters are sent out to restore beauty to Orléans, where everybody is born gray and ugly. They’ve been training for this their whole lives. As Belles, the sisters can use their magic to transform the citizens of Orléans from their original states. For the right price, Belles can grant any desired look. When Camellia secures the coveted spot of Her Majesty’s favorite, it seems as if her dreams have come true. As the most powerful, sought-out Belle, she is in charge of the royal family’s looks. However, the princess is insatiable in her quest for beauty and will do anything to get it—even if it means endangering the Belles and the kingdom—and Camellia may be the only one who can stop her. Not only that, but Camellia finds herself slowly uncovering the secrets of the Belles’ origin, and it’s not as pretty as she was taught. With wonderfully descriptive language, Clayton builds a grand and lavish world, carefully chipping away at the veneer to reveal its dark, sinister interior. In a world where anyone can change their skin color as often as they can change their hair color, race is fluid. Camellia is brown, and her sisters are various shades of brown and pale. With a refreshingly original concept, this substantial fantasy, the first in a duology, is an undeniable page-turner. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Publishers Weekly (November 20, 2017)
Sixteen-year-old sisters Camellia, Edelweiss, Ambrosia, Padma, Valeria, and Hana are the new generation of Belles, young women who are responsible for keeping the citizens of Orléans beautiful, magically transforming their appearances to align with the latest trends. Descendants of the Goddess of Beauty, the Belles are paid to perform their magic to prevent their people from reverting to pallid, red-eyed creatures, their natural state. Talented Camellia believes that she will be selected as the Queen’s favorite, a role the sisters covet deeply. But when another Belle is chosen, and Camellia is assigned to a teahouse to perform beauty rituals on the wealthy, she begins to wonder if what she has always believed about the Belles is true. Clayton (coauthor of Tiny Pretty Things) creates a vivid island world in this enticing series opener, saturating the narration with lush descriptions (“Carts hold tiers of pastries frosted in rose-petal pinks and pearly whites and apple reds, flutes overflow with jewel-tone liquids”) that reflect the culture’s obsession with elegance, appearance, and luxury. Readers will be left with much to consider about morality, individuality, and the malleability and artificiality of beauty. Ages 14-up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary. (Feb.)

About the Author

Dhonielle Clayton is the co-author of the Tiny Pretty Things series. She grew up in the Washington, DC suburbs on the Maryland side and spent most of her time under her grandmother’s table with a stack of books. A former teacher and middle school librarian, Dhonielle is co-founder of CAKE Literary—a creative development company whipping up decidedly diverse books for a wide array of readers—and COO of the non-profit, We Need Diverse Books.

She’s got a serious travel bug and loves spending time outside of the USA, but makes her home in New York City, where she can most likely be found hunting for the best slice of pizza. Her website is www.dhonielleclayton.com.

Around the Web

The Belles on Amazon

The Belles on Goodreads

The Belles Publisher Page