ISLE by Jes Dory


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In this debut YA fantasy, a teenager and her nomadic aunt finally return home to a secluded island and their secret lineage.

Eleanora “Nora” Stone is almost 18. She and her Aunt Ada live in Washington, D.C., but have resided in 25 different places across the U.S. Now they’re about to move again, this time to Stone Isle, Maine, where their family originally hails from. Nora hopes the island will prove a more permanent home, despite it being haunted with the memories of her mother’s and grandparents’ deaths at sea. Her research reveals that Stone Isle is a secluded community, with only six high school students, that’s still dependent on landline phones. Settling into her ancestral home, Nora chooses her mother’s old bedroom. She soon finds letters between her parents in which her father, Alexo, says that someday they’ll be “free to love,” with “no more secrets, no more hiding, no more fear.” Nora asks her aunt for more family history, but Ada refuses to explain until four days have passed. In the meantime, Nora catches up with Eben, a boy her age who’s been avoiding her along the beach. He tells her that he ran from her, a beautiful girl, because local legends of deadly sirens abound. Dory surrounds readers in the eeriness of coastal Maine. She draws from Greek and Basque mythology in depicting the ancient lineages of the Sereni women and their vicious Lamian rivals. That Nora is the key to peace between the two bloodlines feels inevitable, but she develops a vast array of powers—like superhearing, speed, and other, more ferocious ones—that make her seem like an entire team of X-Men unto herself. An effectively sensual love triangle featuring Nora, Eben, and Aston Boxam (her Sereni-Lamian trainer) provides light against the tale’s deep, dark back story, which shuttles nefarious Elders, murderous twins, and Shapeshifters in and out of focus quickly. Dory also avoids the safety inherent in high school fantasy/dramas with a refreshingly spooky locale and stakes that continuously ripple through her protagonist's soul.

A detailed, evocative novel about a powerful heroine that revels in its emotional highs and lows.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4602-7526-9
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: FriesenPress
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2016


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