Tag Archives: monsters

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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Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes

Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes. December 12, 2017. KaBOOM!, 112 p. ISBN: 9781684150502.  Int Lvl: 3-6.

To prove herself as a great chef, a young woman sets up a restaurant as the sole human in a city full of monsters.

Brianna Jakobsson has big cooking dreams, and when her ailing restaurateur father poses a challenge to his only daughter and fifteen sons, she seizes the opportunity. She’s going to have the best restaurant around and earn the family empire. Thing is, the only place she can afford to set up shop is in Monster City. Her menu is full of weird delicacies, her kitchen is run by a half-bird harpy, and her dining room is filled with skeleton businessmen. Add on the nefarious Madame Cron, some highly competitive siblings and Brianna’s plate is literally . . . full.

Brave Chef Brianna from writer Sam Sykes (Munchkin) and artist Selina Espiritu explores one woman’s incredible journey to realize her dreams in the unlikeliest of places. Welcome to Monster City!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

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About the Author

Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his first book, published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, and Canada. He currently resides in the United States and is probably watching you read this right now.

His website is samsykes.com

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The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh

The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh. July 31, 2018. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062430113.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 700.

Harper Raine faces new challenges ahead when her parents take the whole family to a remote tropical island for vacation. As Harper starts to have visions of the resort’s history of disappearances and discovers more about the island’s dark and fabled past, she must use her newly acquired spirit hunting talents to save everyone on the island from murderous spirits on the attack.

Sequel to: Spirit Hunters

Part of series: Spirit Hunters(Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mention of C-section childbirth

 

 

About the Author

Originally from New York City, Ellen Oh is the founder of We Need Diverse Books and the author of the Prophecy trilogy (ProphecyWarrior, and King) for young adults. Spirit Hunters is her fourth book and her first for middle grade readers. A former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three daughters and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

Her website is www.ellenoh.com

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Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. June 26, 2018. Saga Press, 287 p. ISBN: 9781534413498.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 700.

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Part of Series: Sixth World (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence

 

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Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
It is the near future, and a cataclysmic flood has drowned two thirds of the planet. The bulk of the remaining land is the Dinétah, home of the Navajo (known among themselves as the Diné). When the Big Water rose up, so did the gods and monsters of the old stories, who now roam freely through Dinétah alongside clans, families, and gangs. Maggie Hoskie is a monster hunter, trained and then abandoned by the immortal Neizghání. She hunts alone, tormented by her painful past, believing she is almost a monster herself. When a different type of creature begins appearing, Maggie knows she must find its source before it puts the Diné at risk. She reluctantly teams up with an enigmatic medicine man to face down the witch behind it all. Roanhorse is an exciting new voice in speculative fiction, and her depictions of Navajo legends and culture make for a fascinating read. This cross between Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Mad Max: Fury Road will leave readers wanting to know what Maggie does in the next series installment.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
After the Big Water, Maggie Hoskie’s monster-slaying clan powers have woken up. She’s going to need them on a journey culminating in the kind of battle fantasy readers will relish. In Roanhorse’s hard-hitting debut novel, most of the world has perished, and Dinétah (the Navajo Nation) has risen. A wall has been built to keep the Diné safe from what remains, but little can keep them safe from the monsters that have woken up inside those borders and the witches who work to destroy what life is left. Little except Maggie, whose grandmother was murdered in front of her, who was abandoned by the god Neizghání, who’d saved her. Maggie has been left to hunt monsters alone, hoping for the return of the god she loved like a father and wanted as a lover. In walks the troublingly sexy Kai, whom she reluctantly takes along to hunt monsters and who has medicine big enough to perhaps heal the Earth from the Big Water. As her quest grows, Maggie and Kai battle immortals and mortals alike, and Maggie ends up wondering whom to trust. Propelled by the Coyote god Ma’ii, Maggie confronts her past, her love, and her own power in a war where the stakes are higher than she ever imagined. Roanhorse, the first Indigenous American to win a Nebula and a finalist for a Hugo, has given us a sharp, wonderfully dreamy, action-driven novel. Here’s hoping that the next two in this trilogy will deliver more heart-racing, heart-rending prose.

About the Author

Rebecca Roanhorse is speculative fiction writer and Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon Award Finalist. She is also a 2017 Campbell Award Finalist for Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy writer. Her novel Trail of Lightning is the first book in the Sixth World series, followed by Storm of Locusts in 2019. She lives in northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug.

Her website is rebeccaroanhorse.com/

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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

 

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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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The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco. March 20, 2018. Sourcebooks Fire, 400 p. ISBN: 9781492635857.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she’s after revenge…

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Sequel to: The Bone Witch

Part of series: The Bone Witch Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Transphobia

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Grades 9-12. Chupeco’s beautifully crafted world from The Bone Witch (2017) expands in this sequel, which joins dark asha Tea on her crusade of revenge. With an army of the dead and monsters known as daeva, she wrests control of kingdoms that would oppose her. But this is far more than a power grab. A mysterious sleeping sickness is afflicting royal families, and the cure appears to lie with the old Heart Forger and bringing down the remaining Faceless leaders. As in The Bone Witch, the narrative alternates between Tea’s recollections, which she tells the bard, and his own account of her terrifying campaign. Chupeco places the reader in the middle of the action, and they must puzzle through Tea’s motivations and the circumstances that brought her there—things that are gradually revealed through her conversations with the bard, and often seem at odds with one another. Tea is a wonderfully complex character who knowingly assumes the mantle of villain, but Chupeco deftly exposes her admirable qualities alongside her flaws. Readers will benefit from starting with the first book, which meticulously lays out Tea’s world and her training as a bone witch, but Chupeco incorporates enough of these details in her action-driven sequel that newcomers can still find their footing. Dark and entrancing, with a third volume to come.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
With a thirst for vengeance, a band of terrifying daeva at her command, and her resurrected lover by her side, Tea is ready to face her adversaries in this sequel to The Bone Witch (2017).Continuing the established plot, Prince Kance of Odalia falls unconscious due to a mysterious sleeping sickness; the old Heartforger—who might know of a cure—is nowhere to be found; and broody and loyal Deathseeker Kalen still expresses an aversion to Tea and her infatuation with the charming prince. Meanwhile, the sinister Faceless Aenah tries to persuade Tea—who is struggling to control the Dark’s influence over her—to join the even darker side. While necromancy, spellcasting, and political intrigue permeate the narrative as in the previous book, romance (falling in love, surprise engagements, and the sharing of heartsglasses) is the clear catalyst here. Chupeco’s time-hop storytelling style, established in Book 1, is still imperfect, as the intense progression of both the past and present plots results in two seemingly divergent stories (and versions of Tea). But from the sweet banter between two lesbian ashas to Fox’s hilarious sarcasm (even when his arm is dangling by threads of flesh), readers will find Chupeco’s dynamic characters and their interactions with one another refreshing, contributing light and liveliness to a story centered on dark magic and impending war. The world, explicated in the backmatter, is a racially diverse one; Tea and Fox both have brown skin. A sequel that builds in both thrills and enchantment. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

About the Author

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband.

Her website is www.rinchupeco.com.

 

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Hellwalkers by Alexander Gordon Smith

Hellwalkers by Alexander Gordon Smith. November 7, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 p. ISBN: 9780374301743.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

In the third and final book of Alexander Gordon Smith’s Devil’s Engine series, Marlow and Pan are in hell. Literally in hell. Faced with the awful truth of being trapped in the underworld for an eternity―of Pan being trapped―Marlow makes a final deal with the Devil, a deal to go home. But when Marlow and Pan return to Earth, they cannot close the door behind them. And all hell breaks loose. It is a war to end all wars―demonic creatures spill into the streets of New York, monsters haunt the shadows. Only the Hellraisers stand in their way, and they’re not sure this is a battle they can win. They have no powers, they have no weapons. But they have each other, and they have hope, and they know how to kick ass.

Only one thing’s for sure: One way or another, it all ends here.

Sequel to: Hellfighters

Part of series: The Devil’s Engine (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Grotesque violence

 

 

About the Author

Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of the Escape from Furnace series of young adult novels, including Lockdown and Solitary. Born in 1979 in Norwich, England, he always wanted to be a writer. After experimenting in the service and retail trades for a few years, Smith decided to go to University. He studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia, and it was here that he first explored his love of publishing. Along with poet Luke Wright, he founded Egg Box Publishing, a groundbreaking magazine and press that promotes talented new authors. He also started writing literally hundreds of articles, short stories and books ranging from Scooby Doo comic strips to world atlases, Midsomer Murders to X-Files. The endless research for these projects led to countless book ideas germinating in his head. His first book, The Inventors, written with his nine-year-old brother Jamie, was published in the U.K. in 2007. He lives in England.  His website is www.alexandergordonsmith.com.

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Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi. October 31, 2017. Razorbill, 298 p. ISBN: 9780448493909.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

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

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Taj is an aki, a sin-eater. After Mages pull the sins out of people, he and his fellow aki fight those sins and, if they win, consume them, leaving only the tell-tale tattoos on their skin, the signs that mark them as outcasts. But when the supposedly pure King has Taj eat one of his sins, Taj is caught in a battle between the all-powerful members of the royal family over the true role of the aki and their powers. Onyebuchi crafts a compelling tale for his first novel, seamlessly blending fantasy, religion, political intrigue, and a touch of steampunk into a twisting tale of magic. Taj, who narrates the tale in present tense, is a great stand-in for teen readers, equal parts afraid, determined, cocky, smart, and clueless. As he moves out of the slums he knows and into a world of wealth and power, readers will discover whom he can trust and what the other characters truly want right along with him. Hand this intriguing fantasy to fans of Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch (2011).

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2017)
Taj, the black teenage narrator of Onyebuchi’s debut, is an aki, or sin-eater—meaning that he literally consumes the exorcised transgressions of others, usually in the forms of inky-colored animal-shaped phantasms called inisisas that reappear as black tattoos on the akis’ “red skin, brown skin.” This really isn’t his most remarkable trait, however, even as he ingests greater and greater sins of the Kaya, the brown-skinned royal family ruling the land of Kos. What makes Taj extraordinary is the tensions he holds: his blasé awareness of his exalted status as the best aki, even as the townspeople both shun yet exploit him and his chosen family of sin-eaters; his adolescent swagger coupled with the big-brotherly protectiveness he has for the crew of akis and, as the story proceeds, his increasing responsibility to train them; his natural skepticism of the theology that guides Kos even as he performs the very act that allows the theology—and Kos itself—to exist. He must navigate these in the midst of a political plot, a burgeoning star-crossed love, and forgiveness for the sins he does not commit. “Epic” is an overused term to describe how magnificent someone or something is. Author Onyebuchi’s novel creates his in the good old-fashioned way: the slow, loving construction of the mundane and the miraculous, building a world that is both completely new and instantly recognizable. This tale moves beyond the boom-bang, boring theology of so many fantasies—and, in the process, creates, almost griotlike, a paean to an emerging black legend. (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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The Dire King by William Ritter

The Dire King by William Ritter. August 22, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781616206703.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

Sequel to: Ghostly Echoes

Part of series: Jackaby (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Video Review

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
A paranormal private investigator and his clever companion make a last stand against the forces of chaos in this fourth and final book. As an assistant to eccentric detective/seer R.F. Jackaby, Abigail Rook experiences magic, mysteries, and romance. A “lady of science and reason” who accepts the supernatural, Rook prizes her madcap American adventures over her comfortable yet confining British childhood, but she finds her new home threatened by war. As a wave of racist attacks turns their whimsical house at 926 Augur Ln. into a cryptozoological asylum, Jackaby, Rook, and resident ghost Jenny Cavanaugh take a new case and uncover a bigger conspiracy. Hunting mythical talismans, the trio discovers the veil between the mundane world and that of the Annwyn (fae) weakening and the Unseelie armies of the Dire King gathering. Jackaby is a delightful supernaturalist Sherlock, but Rook carries the story, narrating with dry wit, alliteration, and an appreciation for the absurd; faced with war, bureaucrats, and a diabolical life-sucking machine, Rook frets about a potential proposal from her Om Caini (lycanthropic) swain, Charlie. Ritter sets his story in a geographically nonspecific, slightly steampunk 1890s New England port city. It’s helmed by a trio of white protagonists but offers a pointed and timely message about pluralism and the value of bridges over barriers. A humorous, energetic, action-packed, and magical conclusion. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-The fourth and final book in the series sees Abigail Rook, Jackaby’s assistant, take the lead in this preternatural mystery. Previous familiarity with the characters is advised but is not necessary to follow the plot. In 19th-century New Fiddleham, New England, a mysterious threat from the ostensibly dead Dire King endangers everyone when the veil between this world and the fairy world, Annwyn, threatens to fall. Jackaby and Abigail are joined by a multitude of supernatural creatures, including Miss Rook’s shape-shifter boyfriend Charlie and housemate/ghost Jenny who is working on her ability to become corporeal with somewhat mixed results. The group ventures between worlds trying to figure out if the Dire King has returned, or if someone has picked up his mantle. Mayor Spade has also declared war on supernatural creatures; no one is safe in this fast-paced tale. The main characters struggle in battle and with figuring out what their future holds, which leads to an unpredictable conclusion. Though the overall plot is a fairly straightforward whodunit mystery, twists and turns provide for action-packed pages. Events that have been heavily foreshadowed throughout will come to fruition in a satisfying ending that offers tantalizing hints of the characters’ fortunes. This will most appeal to series fans and those who enjoy teen detective novels like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro or Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star. VERDICT A strong purchase where the series is already popular.-Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

About the Author

William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Dire King is the fourth and final book in his acclaimed New York Times bestselling Jackaby series.

His website is rwillritter.wordpress.com

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. March 7, 2017. Sourcebooks Fire, 411 p. ISBN: 9781492635826.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 900.

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

Part of series: The Bone Witch

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Tea is a dark asha, a bone witch, capable of wielding death magic. It is a position both necessary and reviled by those around her, for every few years, monstrous daeva created by the False Prince rise and go on a murderous spree unless returned to death by a bone witch. Tea’s story quietly unfurls through recollections told to a traveling bard, as the 17-year-old asha—now an outcast—prepares to wage a war of her own making. The narrative is primarily devoted to world building, which Chupeco fashions through a richly imagined history and culture, reminiscent of traditional Asian cultures, revealed through Tea’s asha training. Those craving action may not appreciate this book’s subtle execution, but patient readers who enjoy immersing themselves in detail will revel in Chupeco’s finely wrought tale. Game of Thrones fans may see shades of Daenerys Targaryen in Tea, as she gathers a daeva army to unleash upon the world. Whether she is in the right remains a question unanswered, but the ending makes it clear her story is only beginning.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2017)
Something of a high-fantasy Memoirs of a Geisha, Chupeco’s latest excels in originality. The asha are known for performing, fighting, and magic; beautiful, brown-skinned Tea is taken from her provincial village to Kion to begin training as a dark (in magic) asha when she accidentally raises her dead brother. Chapters detailing young Tea’s early training through her debut as an asha intercut with 17-year-old Tea on a lonely beach raising monsters and planning war, relating her past to a nameless bard. The level of detail is astounding, confusing, but nevertheless fascinating; politics both local (the brief backmatter is a bit of a guide) and magical (the origin tale of the Faceless and heartsglass, introduced in the prologue, finally appears at the three-quarter mark) permeate everything. Multiple characters, including a dead brother and a handsome prince, surround stubborn, headstrong Tea as she finds herself implicated in events she doesn’t understand; the interstitial chapters make it clear that learning more will not make things better. These also slow the pace; they force an artificial sense of urgency in an otherwise slow, sensory journey and hijack the flow of Tea’s adventures. Chupeco is a writer to watch who deserves props for the breadth of her story, but she doesn’t entirely succeed here. A promising premise, a flawed execution, and a sense that the real story won’t develop until Book 2: somehow both exhilarating and disappointing. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

About the Author

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband.

Her website is www.rinchupeco.com.

 

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