Tag Archives: magic

Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi

Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi. October 16, 2018. Razorbill, 336 p. ISBN: 9780448493930.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In the sequel to the acclaimed Beasts Made of Night, Taj has escaped Kos, but Queen Karima will go to any means necessary—including using the most deadly magic—to track him down.

Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima’s dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan.

With Arzu’s help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik—sin-eaters with Taj’s same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik—one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends.

Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She’s immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima’s magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny—a future she’s not sure she wants.

As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj’s true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he’s hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her mostly deadly weapon—Taj’s former best friend, Bo.

Sequel to: Beasts Made of Night

Part of Series: Beasts Made of Night (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Discrimination, War, Violence, Alcohol, Criminal culture, Gore

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 7-10. Taj, Aliya, and Arzu have fled their ruined city of Kos in the wake of now Queen Karima’s betrayal and violence, eventually ending up in Arzu’s home village, where aki (sin-eaters) are revered as public servants. Being honored instead of reviled makes Taj reluctant to turn back to his lost home, until the body count rises so high he realizes he has no choice. While he grapples with his violent feelings, Aliya is trying to survive the gifts of the Unnamed (God) and learning to write the world in algebraic proofs. Together their talents may be enough to overthrow the woman who seems to have harnessed everything evil in nature. Readers will want to start with Beasts Made of Night (2017) to better follow the story line, and the naming conventions are a mouthful at times. Taj continues his first-person narration of this rich stew of street smarts, myth, and almost nonstop action. The tie to mathematics is appealing for STEM programs, although the “proofs” are figuratively, rather than literally, presented.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
After having escaped Kos and the clutches of Karima, Taj is on the run. With the help of other aki (sin-eaters) and some Mages, including Aliya, Taj finds himself having to come to terms with the fallout of leaving his city. Karima will do anything, including destroying innocent lives, to find Taj. With each step away from Kos, he learns just how far she is willing to go—including turning his former best friend, Bo, against him. Grappling with feelings of remorse, survivor’s guilt, and conflict over how to use his powers, Taj finds himself at a pivotal crossroads—choose self or choose to fight for one’s people. With the help of Arzu, Taj and Aliya make it to a village that has other aki, the tastahlik. Unlike Taj and his ilk in Kos, they are revered for their powers and have honed them to use for selfless and selfish reasons alike. Taj discovers that he can learn how to control and develop his talents, but he must decide what purpose he wants them to serve. Aliya also comes to terms with her own powers, though her path to knowledge and mastery takes a severe toll. Following the lauded Beasts Made of Night (2017), Onyebuchi’s tale carries us on a journey of forgiveness, growth, and sacrifice. The action is fast-paced and captivating, but transitions at times feel a bit rushed as a result. A satisfying sequel. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Tochi Onyebuchi is a writer based in Connecticut. He holds a MFA in Screenwriting from Tisch and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s and Ideomancer, among other places. Beasts Made of Night is his debut.

 

 

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Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. October 9, 2018. Fiewel + Friends.  375 p. ISBN: 9781250162717.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Sisters Blanca and Roja del Cisne have grown up understanding their family’s curse. Long ago, their ancestor bargained with the swans for a daughter. Every generation, the Del Cisnes have two daughters, but eventually, the swans always take one back. Roja, fierce and willful, has always believed she’d be the sister turned into a swan, while graceful, compliant Blanca would remain a girl. But if there’s anything Blanca is willing to fight for, it’s her sister. As their days together wane, two boys with curses of their own enter their lives. Barclay Holt, once the son of a wealthy, treacherous family, who has been trapped for a year in the body of a bear; and his best friend, Page Ashby, child of apple farmers, who identifies as a boy but finds that the pronouns she and her fit comfortably as well. As the four come closer together, their fates may become unalterably linked. In her fourth novel, McLemore (Wild Beauty​, 2017) is at her finest; she twines Latino folklore through the fairy tales of Swan Lake and Snow White & Rose Red to create a story that is wholly original. She writes openheartedly about families found and families given, the weight of expectation and the price of duty, and in the end offers up something that’s vibrant, wondrously strange, and filled to the brim with love of all kinds.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Blanca and Roja, the del Cisne sisters, have grown up knowing their family is cursed as a result of a bargain made generations ago, and that eventually either Blanca or Roja will be trapped in the body of a swan and live among them. Blanca, fair-haired and sweet, and Roja, flame-haired and difficult, spend their lives trying to become more like each other so that they will be intertwined and ultimately impossible to separate when the swans finally arrive to claim their due. When a bear who is also a boy called Yearling arrives on their doorstep, followed by his friend Page (who uses both he and she pronouns), their story becomes more complicated and their fates much less clear. This tale reimagines Snow White and Rose Red as young Latinx women, and it mixes their stories with details and themes from “The Ugly Duckling,” Swan Lake, and “The Wild Swans.” Depth of character is sometimes sacrificed in order to incorporate so many threads (e.g., Yearling’s story of dealing with family corruption is less well drawn than other narrative elements). But McLemore’s vivid descriptions create a tale rich with visual detail, and readers will be compelled to keep reading to find out the fate of these sisters. christina l. dobbs

About the Author

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, raised in the same town as the world’s largest wisteria vine, and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel The Weight of Feathers was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award.

Her website is author.annamariemclemore.com.

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For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig. September 25, 2018. Greenwillow Books, 512 p. ISBN: 9780062380814.  Int Lvl: YA.

A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader.

The first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and Renée Ahdieh.

Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood.

But ever since the colonizing army conquered their country, the old ways are forbidden, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad Emperor has a spring that cures his ills—and could cure Jetta’s, too. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues her.

But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a vivid, rich world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism. Her characters are equally complex and nuanced, including the bipolar heroine. Told from Jetta’s first-person point-of-view, as well as with chapters written as play scripts and ephemera such as telegrams and letters, For a Muse of Fire is an engrossing journey that weaves magic, simmering romance, and the deep bonds of family with the high stakes of epic adventure.

Part of Series: For a Muse of Fire (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Harsh realities of war, Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Racism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Jetta has lost much since her people, the Chakrans, were colonized by the Aquitans. After her brother, conscripted for an Aquitan war, disappeared, Jetta grew closer with her parents as they traveled across the country, putting on shadow-puppet shows. That Jetta’s puppets seem almost supernaturally independent is something the family must be coy about: Jetta can bind the souls of the dead, old magic that the Aquitans despise. Jetta hopes to use her skill to win a cure for her mental illness. But unrest simmers, and, as she makes her way through a treacherous, darkly fantastical world, joining forces with a smuggler who has motives of his own, Jetta learns more about her family, her powers, and the place she inhabits. This series starter is action-packed, sometimes overly so; it’s occasionally hard to keep up with the many twists and turns. Still, a girl dealing with bipolar disorder is a welcome heroine in a fantasy novel, and theatrical elements, rich world building, and loose ties to the French colonization of Southeast Asia add fascinating depth.

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2018)
Sixteen-year-old shadow puppeteer Jetta Chantray performs with her family’s traveling troupe, the Ros Nai. The dark-skinned, dark-haired Chakrans have been colonized by the pale, blond Aquitans who prize their sugar and sapphires, and their shadow theater too. But Jetta has a secret—instead of sticks and strings, she binds souls with blood magic and tucks them inside her puppets. Jetta is desperate to impress the Aquitan general and win passage to Aquitan, where she hopes to find a cure for her mental illness. When the Ros Nai collides with Chakran guerrillas, Jetta and her family are plunged into the chaos of the rebellion. Thus begins an action-packed journey that takes readers from a sultry cabaret to a subterranean tunnel, tropical jungle, putrid midden, shining city, and stone prison. Jetta discovers the dark side of her gift, long-held family secrets, and truths about the horrors and lies of war. There’s a somewhat thin romance with a mixed-race smuggler, and the plot occasionally gets tangled in the weeds of imagery. But readers will be rewarded with vividly drawn settings reminiscent of Hawaii and Southeast Asia, exciting action scenes, and a complex protagonist who contends not only with her malheur, but also ambition, anger, and family loyalty. Ephemera, including telegrams, letters, and scenes from plays, enhance the story. A brooding fantasy with a diverse cast, rarely-seen setting, and compelling heroine who struggles with bipolar disorder. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

About the Author

Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.

She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her son and their pet snake. Her website is www.heidiheilig.com

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Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton. September 18, 2018. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 389 p. ISBN: 9781534402089.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Strong sexual themes, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. In the town of Three Graces, death is a knowable thing. The crops do not fail, childbirth happens free of incident, and injuries heal quickly and without infection. And every seven years when the Slaughter Moon rises, a boy runs into Devil’s Forest as a sacrifice. Local folklore says that this is part of a bargain, forged when the Devil fell in love with a witch. But the Slaughter Moon has risen four years early, and the bargain may be weakening. Rhun has always known he would be the anointed saint; he just thought he had more time. Mairwen, a witch, feels the pull of the forest as well, as does Arthur, a boy whose mother raised him as a girl so he would never be a saint. The three go into the forest, and neither they nor it will be the same. Gratton neatly sidesteps a love triangle by putting her trio on equal footing: this is a polyamorous love story as much as it is an eerie, consuming tale of sacrifice and faith. Haunting and unique.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
When the needs of the many require the deaths of a few, three friends defy tradition. Idyllic, isolated Three Graces has enjoyed good health and harvests…in exchange for sending their “best boy” into the Devil’s Forest every 7 years. Few survive to return; all are venerated as saints. Now the sacrifice is coming due too early, and bighearted 17-year-old Rhun Sayer is favored as the saint while 17-year-old Arthur Couch (initially raised by his mother as a girl in an effort to protect him from being chosen) insists on proving his masculinity. But 16-year-old witch’s daughter Mairwin Grace is determined to keep her friends alive. Rather than a tortured love triangle, Gratton (The Queens of Innis Lear, 2018, etc.) treats their evolving, polyamorous relationship sincerely and sensitively. The fantastical elements are described in gorgeous and grotesque detail, their vividness overcoming the generic setting—a vaguely medieval northern European enclave peopled primarily by white citizens (such as blond Arthur and brunette Mairwin), with some who are brown-skinned with curling black hair (Rhun and his mother, a refugee). Told in present tense with the hypnotic cadence of fairy tales and Norse sagas, muddled by amnesia, and illuminated by flashbacks, the elaborately nonlinear narrative obscures a relatively thin plot. Although action-packed, violent, and macabre, this is ultimately a love story. Horrifying, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, a lush fairy tale rooted in a moral quandary. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. Alas, she turned out too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for a someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog. She now spends her days staring at the sky and telling lots of stories about magic.

Her website is tessagratton.com

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The Flower Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Flower Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. October 9, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250162953.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.9.

What’s in a name?

In order to defeat the Nightmare Knight, legend dictates that the Dream Sword must be autographed by seven princesses. But things get a bit complicated when our heroes discover that the Flower Kingdom has no royalty! Luckily, the “king” of fashion, Mr. R is on the hunt for the new face of his style empire, and whoever catches his eye will be named… (wait for it…) “Princess R”!

Sequel to: The Melody Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book #4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence

 

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.com

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The Melody Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Melody Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. May 29, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250159830.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.8; Lexile: 390.

Now with Princess Nautilus as part of their entourage, Cucumber and Almond travel to Trebleopolis to warn Princess Piano that Noisemaster, second of the Nightmare Knight’s minions, might be after her! Unfortunately, they arrive just in time for Queen Cymbal’s birthday and the Queen refuses to stop the festivities . . . that is until Noisemaster succeeds in capturing Princess Piano and threatens to destroy the city.

Adapted from the popular webcomic series of the same name, Gigi D.G.’s Cucumber Quest: The Melody Kingdom is the third book of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.

Sequel to: The Ripple Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book #3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2018)
In this third series installment, a band of unlikely heroes embarks upon a quest in a magical, musical land.Hailing from the Doughnut Kingdom, rabbit-eared, magic wand–wielding Cucumber and his fierce and feisty sister Almond are on a crusade to save their world from the impending devastation of the Nightmare Knight. Their most recent adventure took them to the Ripple Kingdom, where they met Princess Nautilus and retrieved the Dream Sword, which needs to be signed by six more princesses. Now the gang has ventured to the Melody Kingdom in search of Princess Piano, but soon they discover they must face an array of not-so-nefarious foes: the psychedelic Noisemaster, the Mutemaster, and vainglorious Count Legato. In this adaptation of a former webcomic designed entirely in Photoshop, D.G.’s illustrations utilize an arresting palette of enthralling Day-Glo tones. While each offering recounts a complete quest, the action in this volume seems propelled by a confused silliness rather than intentional plotting, leaving the eventual salvation of the realm feeling like a frustrating impossibility. In each volume, maps of each individual kingdom are provided, but readers may long for a map of the whole realm as well. Those familiar with the offbeat humor of cartoons like Adventure Time will be easy converts and should feel at home in this kooky world. It’s visually engaging as always, but it’s not the strongest offering in the series. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.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 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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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