Books by Celia Rees

Released: Oct. 16, 2012

"Though the portrayal of Rob's deteriorating mental state is raw and often uncomfortable, in the end, the honest, uncensored storytelling makes this a tale that will stay with readers long after the final page is turned. (Fiction. 14 & up)"
A dark and dangerous thrill ride pushes teen readers to the brink of their comfort zones when it comes to issues of love, lust, politics, family and war. Read full book review >
SOVAY by Celia Rees
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

It's best not to mess with Sovay Middleton. When this fearless 17-year-old living in 1794 England finds out her fiancé cheated on her, she disguises herself as a rough-and-tumble highwayman and gallops off, determined to humiliate the "lecherous, double-dealing, false-hearted, despicable, craven little villain." She does, too. The beautiful heroine, still under the guise of "Captain Blaze," then embarks on a perilous journey to find her missing father and brother, whose allegedly seditious words have marked them as traitors to England's king. While rampant spies, gunplay, cross-dressing young male prostitutes, stolen kisses, angry mobs and even the gory public execution of Robespierre keep things spicy, Rees pauses to spell out, often rather stiffly, the political motivations of her characters, with relation to issues of class inequality in particular. The villains look like villains, the right people show up on cue and the frissons of love are just plain odd in this fast-paced, unabashedly over-the-top novel, but readers who want some revolution with their romance may be happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the swashbuckling. (afterword) (Historical fiction. YA)Read full book review >
THE WISH HOUSE by Celia Rees
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

An intense foray into first lust and the meanings of art in the summer of 1970 and six years later. Rees prefaces each chapter with a catalogue raisonné entry, an art critic's description or some other scrap of printed matter that sets the stage. In London's SoHo, a 21-year-old Richard goes to an invitation-only art gallery exhibiting Clio Dalton's work. The summer they were 15, Richard had stumbled over her and her family at the Wish House, where he and a buddy used to hang out in the summer when it was abandoned. Now, however, Clio, her mother Lucia and her artist father J.A. Dalton, and an ever-changing coterie of relatives, friends and hangers-on are spending the summer. Richard is closed, thoughtless and utterly confused by these free spirits; he is obsessed with Clio and her body and the lovely, imaginative games they play full of knights and quests. J.A. is also painting the golden, handsome Richard. There are no sympathetic characters here: Clio is manipulative and dangerous; J.A. is tortured and passionate; Richard's first sight of Lucia is of her lying naked on the lawn. Things end very badly, if predictably, indeed. Compelling for its examination of the darker side of desire both sexual and artistic. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
PIRATES! by Celia Rees
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

A rambling, romantic 18th-century tale features a teenaged British heiress who, along with her African half-sister, avoids Terrible Fate by becoming a pirate. In the wake of her father's sudden death, Nancy finds herself hustled from comfortable Bristol to the family's Jamaican sugar plantation, where she forms an alliance with Minerva, a strangely attractive body slave. Following the shocking discovery that her thoroughly vile brothers have sold her to cruel, swarthy ex-buccaneer Bartholome, Nancy stops the plantation's vicious overseer from raping Minerva by blowing out his brains—whereupon both young women don men's clothing and go to sea. Minerva and Nancy both demonstrate facility with fist, blade, and pistol as they survive storms, battle, attempted mutiny, leering suitors, and other hazards—climaxed by a confrontation with Bartholome, who pursues her relentlessly from the Caribbean to Madagascar. Minerva's true identity comes out eventually, and in the end, both she and Nancy acquire suitable mates without losing their yen for adventure. An ambitious but fundamentally conventional tale, closer to Ann Rinaldi's historical novels than the more rousing likes of Avi's True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

Born on a Friday at the stroke of midnight, Davey Williams is a "chime child" whose strange powers and extraordinary perceptions allow him to see ghosts and other supernatural beings. When Davey, his sister and their twin cousins take a "ghost tour" in the historic ruins that underlie their English hometown, they literally stumble into an alternate world peopled by ghosts—some good, some evil—and members of the Unseelie Court, a band of capricious, often malicious fairies. For the next year, from Midsummer to Midsummer, Davey and his family and friends wage a struggle against evil, pitting themselves against ill-intentioned ghosts and the Lady, daughter of the Unseelie leader. Although the world Rees creates is convincing, folkloric elements serve primarily to drive the plot and lack consistency with traditional lore. Rees, author of the convincing Witch Child (2001) and its sequel, Sorceress (not reviewed) skillfully sustains an atmosphere of menace, provides a varied cast of villains and creates brave, likable child heroes. Plotting for the trilogy's six episodes follows a formula, and the three books are best read in turn since each sequel builds on the action of the previous title. The resolution of the series is pat, but ultimately satisfying. This will gratify young devotees of dark fantasy with its deliciously scary and compelling stories. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
WITCH CHILD by Celia Rees
Released: July 13, 2001

After watching her grandmother hang for being a witch, Mary journeys to the New World only to discover that human nature's desire to blame another is not limited to 17th-century England. Unlike most stories about people accused of sorcery, Mary freely admits to her gift, one that offers pain with its limited power. Mary's intelligence and openness to the world around her, along with a distinct distrust of the omnipresent religious fervor provide the narrator with immense appeal. There's objectivity to the diary entries about her journey to Massachusetts among a group of Pilgrims and her hard work of settling in a new land. She freely enjoys the company of a young sailor, gets to know the native guides, and appreciates the healing powers of plants. Equally, she recognizes the frivolity and conceit of others in the party and the arrogance and selfishness of the leader who claims to speak for God. When trouble arises, whether in England or in the colonies, some are quick to blame the Devil and his spawn, the witch. Luckily, Mary finds some good people who cling to logic even amid their religious allegiance or who lack that mindset of blind devotion. This diary is eerily given fake credibility by a single-page prologue and an afterword that describe the provenance of the pages and call for further information from readers, an unnecessary gimmick. The tightrope that Mary walks as an outsider in her society is a dangerous one, and the suspense tightens as events unfold. The text is haunting despite a lack of antiquity in the language. Perhaps wisely, Rees forgoes emphasizing historical or theological accuracy and instead focuses on providing immediate characters. With its theme of religious intolerance and its touches of the supernatural, this is sure to be in high demand for a long time. (Fiction. 11-14)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Originally published in Great Britain as Truth or Dare, Rees folds three strands of plot together into one intriguing mystery about 13-year-old Joshua's long-departed Uncle Patrick. Even before they arrive at Gram's house, where Gram is terminally ill and needing care, Mom is acting strange. Although Gram's mutterings about Patrick aren't worth bothering about, the strangeness of Patrick's old room is worth Josh's study. While absorbed by these oddities, Josh's mother, Joanna, in an attempt to deal with her own guilt, creates a computer file describing the critical events of the long-ago summer when she was 11 and Patrick disappeared. After Gram is gone, neighbor Katherine, 15 and attractive, provides the outside prod to truly search for answers. Together, she and Josh discover a frightening correlation between that secret family story and the plot of a new AlienState video game: HomeWorld. The dexterity with which Rees weaves these threads together builds suspense. The characters are not well-developed, nor is there a strong moral sense at the core. At the heart of the mystery is Patrick's autism, or Asberger's Syndrome. There was no such diagnosis at the time, and much pain and tragedy resulted. The brutality with which Patrick is treated doesn't diminish or excuse the violence of his reactions. The impact is softened and made bearable by having the worst take place off-stage or in the past. Adults may wish for an ending that delves deeper and questions the moral justice of events, but the intended readers will be grabbed by the trail of leads and will accept the mystery on its own terms. Detecting with a techie tilt. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >