Books by James Riley

THE LAST DRAGON  by James Riley
Released: Oct. 8, 2019

"A muddled middle, with little sign of movement toward a final conflict or resolution. (Fantasy. 10-13)"
Nightmarish visions prompt desperate gambles for young magic-wielder Fort as he continues his efforts to rescue his father from the mysterious Old Ones. Read full book review >
Released: March 5, 2019

"A potent mixture of magic and monsters that never materializes. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
After 12-year-old Fort's father is abducted during an alien attack on Washington, D.C., he jumps at the chance to attend a school of magic that is preparing to go to war with the invaders. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"A literary hall of mirrors, with plenty of thrills and laughs to keep 'nonfictionals' in the game. (Metafictional fantasy. 11-13)"
Bethany's latest book-diving exploit takes her and her friends into a superhero comic, a realm where, of course, the good guys always win—or do they? Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"Likely to leave more than a few punctures in even the most levelheaded reader's sense of reality. (Metafictional fantasy. 10-13)"
A fictional character's megalomaniacal scheme to insert himself into every novel ever written precipitates a merry chase through meta-realms in this brain-cracking sequel. Read full book review >
STORY THIEVES by James Riley
Released: Jan. 20, 2015

"A droll and clever opener likely to leave readers breathless both with laughter and anticipation. (Fantasy. 10-12)"
The fourth wall suffers major breaches as young characters from a popular fantasy series and the "real real world" join forces to battle threats in both. Read full book review >
TWICE UPON A TIME by James Riley
Released: April 24, 2012

"Go for Lyn Gardner's Into the Woods, (2007) Emily Rodda's Key to Rondo (2008) and Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark & Grimm (2010) instead. (Fantasy. 8-11)"
With no dearth of novels that fracture and mingle fairy tales, waste no time on this sequel and its lazy metaphysics. Read full book review >
HALF UPON A TIME by James Riley
Released: Sept. 7, 2010

This fractured fairy tale features a hip contemporary voice but relies too heavily on relayed history. Opening with a line that captures both context and fabulously sardonic attitude—"Once upon a time, Jack wouldn't have been caught dead in a princess rescue"—Riley quickly establishes his protagonists: Jack, pragmatic but mopey, waiting for any chance to rescue a princess, and May, sporting blue-streaked hair, a cell phone and a Punk Princess T-shirt, who has dropped in from another realm. Jack assumes that May's a princess; May knows only that her grandmother was kidnapped. They set out to rescue grandma, picking up an elegant prince who annoys Jack by being competent. May's voice is more often feistily modern ("Then you went and got eaten! What's that about!?") than stilted (she describes grandma as "[s]o full of life"), but she's positioned within the narrative mainly to be fought over and protected. Unfortunately, plot twists and revelations all derive their meaning from past events in Jack's world, forcing the text to be so expository that emotional investment never quite catches up. (Fantasy. 8-10)Read full book review >