Books by Joni Sensel

Released: March 1, 2010

Sensel continues the adventures of Ariel Farwalker, who, in The Farwalker's Quest (2009), uncovered a vault containing knowledge of advanced technologies on a post-apocalyptic, neo-primitive Earth. For the past year, Ariel, now 14, has been experiencing disturbing dreams. The moon nags at her: "Hasten. Late, late." The author follows the formula established in the previous book, as Ariel and Scarl, her guardian, rush to decipher the cryptic message before it is too late. Along with two new characters, the seductive Sienna, a Flame-Mage, and the speechless boy Nace, a Kincaller, they race to solve the mystery. The quartet overcomes life-threatening perils and uncovers a long-forgotten place. Tension develops when Sienna's romantic interests in Scarl threaten his relationship with Ariel. Fans will welcome Ariel's first kiss, as her romance with Nace blossoms. Enough back story is included to refresh readers' memories. While the dialogue is not as sharp as in the earlier work, the fully imagined world, ripe with dangers and rituals, is entertaining. The story comes to a satisfying ending that leaves the possibility for another episode with the spunky Ariel. (Science fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

As this absorbing fantasy adventure opens, several generations have passed since a disaster struck earth and changed life forever. Rustic communities are somewhat isolated from one another, and surnames, decided at the annual Namingfest, reflect an individual's trade, such as Reaper, Fisher, Tree-Singer or Healtouch. Three days before her Namingfest, 12-year-old Ariel and her friend Zeke, a tree-singer-in-training, discover a "telling dart," once used as a form of communication. Their discovery sparks fear and suspicion amongst villagers. Determined to uncover who sent the dart and unlock its embedded message, Ariel and Zeke set off on a perilous journey fraught with sorrow, danger and unscrupulous villains, yet they also experience great joy. The story offers crisp dialogue, an exciting plot and strong secondary characters that support Ariel as she successfully transforms from a spoiled girl to a brave and compassionate young woman. An epilogue tells readers that Ariel accepts the surname of Farwalker and continues to spread long-forgotten knowledge from village to village in this hopeful contribution to post-apocalyptic literature. (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2008

In 10th-century Ireland, a young novice with an unusual talent finds his cloistered world turned upside-down when he and a bewitching girl encounter Viking raiders. Seventeen-year-old Aiden is eager to take his monastic vows so he can learn to copy scriptures and illuminate manuscripts. He has the unique power to discern the "numbers humming from people and things," which sets him apart from everyone. When he meets Lana, illegitimate daughter of the local lord, she hums the number 11, the highest human number Aiden has ever encountered. Immediately attracted to Lana—who has powers of her own—he fears she will be his undoing. The two are unexpectedly drawn together after marauding Vikings attack the village and abbey, killing, burning and pillaging. Suddenly on their own, Aiden and Lana devise a desperate plan to rescue the remaining villagers by using their magical gifts. Although improbable, the plot proves exciting even if Aiden and Lana are all-too-obviously destined for one another. Teen love in Dark Ages Ireland. (Fiction. 12 & up)Read full book review >
REALITY LEAK by Joni Sensel
Released: April 1, 2007

This truly eccentric take on the power of imagination requires a big suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Sensel's first novel features 11-year-old Bryan Zilcher, who becomes involved with the terribly mysterious president of ACME Inc., Archibald Keen. Bryan's realistic feelings about his divorced dad's girlfriend seem incongruous when mixed in with the wildly fantastic plot. ACME is an acronym for Astro-Chrono-Magical-Enterprises, and weird things do happen there. Bryan is hired after answering a series of incredibly nonsensical questions. Fellow school nerd Rebecca is hired as guard dog, acting and living life as a dog named Spot. Bryan's first job is to plant popped corn in a vast field. Eventually his dad and his dad's girlfriend get involved in what becomes a seriously warped and possibly dangerous experience with ACME. Some of the bizarre occurrences are truly imaginative. Slade's illustrations add greatly to the tale, but the strange juxtaposition of reality and fantasy doesn't quite gel. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >