Voices by Ursula K LeGuin weaves magic and duty into the fictional world of Ansul. It’s a city conquered and shackled by regulations where reading and writing are crimes punishable by death. Hidden behind the safety of walls in a once prosperous home, Memer comes to cherish books and must find her own brand of courage – one that will be tested.
For someone raised to be obedient and to find safety in quiet ways, the life of a rebel is not a choice easily made. A visiting poet and his wife shake things up and offer Memer a chance to try on a disguise and see another side of city life.
LeGuin delivers again another wonderful coming of age fantasy.
City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster. I must admit, the cover drew me to this novel. It is beautiful. The world building kept me in the fantastical city full of secrets and royal ambition.
A girl who was abandoned at the gates of the City of A Thousand Dolls searches for a killer and ends up learning more about her true heritage. This is a nice beginning to what will become a popular fantasy series. Especially if you adore cats…just saying…without giving away too much.
Chime by Franny Billingsley adds a YA twist to Southern Gothic.
Briony Larkin has been filled with guilt and loathing since her stepmother’s recent death. She keeps secret that she knows she’s a witch, that she’s responsible for her twin Rose’s handicap, and that she caused her stepmother’s death.
Isolated in their Swampsea parsonage at the turn of the twentieth century, she has no hope of things getting better. When Eric arrives things get more difficult. His father plans on draining the swamp and Briony knows that the Old Ones will never allow it. Another death will be coming. This is a dark, twisted world in the best gothic tradition with some added fantasy thrown in. Ultimately it’s a story of redemption and Briony at least feels she’s too far gone for salvation, but she won’t give up her sister without a fight.
The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley is told in the format of 15-year-old, Corinna Stonewall’s diary. An orphan in foster care, she reinvents herself as a boy named Corin, a Folk Keeper.
It’s a hazardous job spent deep in the cellars placating the magical creatures whose harmful pranks would threaten her village. What others would consider torturous, she finds comforting and safe. Corin’s lured away to a large estate with much darker and dangerous Folk to tame. Lady Alicia’s manor harbors a fierce breed of Folk who have already tasted human blood.
Here Corinna learns her true legacy and finally confronts the fact she can no longer disguise herself as a lad. Living so close to the sea, she feels it’s pull and discovers her magical powers. Finian, the owner’s son, offers her first true friendship and more. What sets this book apart is the rich imagery, setting a stage for an almost gothic tale. Although this is not a new release, it is a stunner, which will both send chills down your spine and grab your heartstrings.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente is a must read for lovers of whimsy and original voices. Twelve-year-old September leaves her boring life in rural America at the invitation of the Green Wind. She meets many interesting characters on her journey including El the Wyvern and Saturday the Marid.
I originally found this story in installments online and had to read the book in its entirety. A modern day Alice In Wonderland and Wizard Of Oz tale that will capture and adults heart perhaps even deeper than a child’s. The tale goes darker than other Fairyland adventures, but never abandons hope. Huge recommendation here to read and recommend the Andre Norton Award winner to anyone who enjoys fantasy.
The Marked Son by Shea Berkley is a novel that lingers long after the story is over. In this YA Paranormal Romance normal and fantasy worlds converge as two kids journeys toward discovering who and what truly.
Dylan’s mom dumps him at his grandparents farm in the mountains of Oregon. It guts him. Sure she was an irresponsible pain with a string of boyfriends too long to name, but she was all he had. After claiming he was allergic to nature all his life, she abandons him on the farm she ran away from seventeen years ago.
It’s enough to make any guy want to pretend it’s not really happening. Dylan thinks he must be really losing it when he starts seeing a familiar girl in white dress running in the woods. His old nightmares come back. ?Instead of fleeing, he charges straight toward trouble. Secrets have been kept from both Kera and Dylan that soon make them targets in two realms.
I’ve already read this brand spanking new release twice. The first time I devoured the plot and the second time I enjoyed the complex world building. This author pulls you in with emotions and magical prose. Big recommendation here for the first in the Keepers of Life series. Bring on book two.
A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray weaves a world of l ate 19th centuryEngland with a magical land in this entertaining YA fantasy.
Gemma Doyle is shipped away from her life in India when she is sixteen years old after her mother’s aparent suicide. She’s sent to a proper boarding school, one her mother went to as a girl. Gemma’s tormented by visions that often come true. And if she’s not mistaken, an Indian boy is following her. Is he sent to protect her or something more sinister?
The lush details bring this fantasy to life. I only wish this series had lasted more than three books.
Here is a YA fantasy that’s quick-moving. In Tricksters Choice by Tamora Pierce Aly’s parents are nobles fighters and spies for one kingdom, and she is kidnapped into slavery in another. A trickster god weaves a complicated plan to change the monarchy of this second kingdom and as a bargain only asks Aly to keep two girls alive until the equinox and then she can be released. Sounds easy but making bets with a deity never turn out as planned.
There is great world building here and a look at a class structure of the darker, native people who used to rule the island and the newer light-skinned conquerors. The two young princesses are mixed race and one may be destined to become the new queen, that is if she can survive the summer. This is a fun first book in the series.
Among Others by Jo Walton could easily be a sourcebook for all the great early science fiction authors. The story is told through journal entries of fifteen year old Morweena. She ran away from her mother after her twin sister died and is sent to a grim boarding school. She meets her father who abandoned the family when she was an infant, but doesn’t immediately connect with him and his odd trio of sisters.
One of my favorite lines is I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books. Anyone who loves books, especially science fiction and fantasy, will fall in love with Mor. I thought I was well read.
This is a tale of her coming to accept her knew not half a twin self. The accident which killed her sister crippled Mor’s leg. She pushes the other girls away with claims that her mother’s a witch and befriends the other girl in her grade who’s the target of the bullies. Through fate or magic, she’s introduced to a science fiction book club that makes her Tuesday evenings bearable. This coming og age tale is realistic and utterly fanciful. Now I need to reread this to pick out the books l haven’t read. ( I love how she notates which books she’s read in her journals. This is set in 1979 England – long before the oh so popular blogs.) Looks like there will be a growing pile of reserved books at the library. Mor would definitely be part of our long distance reader’s club.
The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones delves into the dark world of Djinns as Captain Asim and Dabir, a soldier and a scholar, trek across the desert to retrieve a stolen artifact and ultimately to save their city. It begins in eighth century Baghdad, when Captain Asim suggests to his master Jaffar that they visit the market in disguise. The three men are told fortunes they believe were mistakenly meant for each other.
Mr. Jones pens a rich first person narrative that’s not stingy on sensory descriptions. We’re immersed in both the historic, ancient arab cultural and the pure fantasy that evokes The Arabian Nights.
The style of the novel is reminiscent of the rich, traditional, epic fantasy genre interbred with the exciting suspense of action and adventure, using a modern, tight, internal view of a perfectly pitched voice full of exotic and colorful places.
Such a satisfying novel, it makes you want more or perhaps to reread it to go on the adventure again,