A skeptical girl who distrusts stories discovers their value when she’s trapped in the middle of one.
The rules of logic and facts shape 12-year-old Kallie’s predictable life until she finds herself in possession of a mysterious puzzle box. Unlocking the box unleashes a set of “bewitched” bones with strange symbols on them that entangle Kallie in a story beyond her control. Throughout her journey, Kallie questions the nature of the possible and impossible as she seeks out scientific explanations for her problems from her best friend, Pole Rodriguez (the only primary character who isn’t presumed white), and the missing pieces of truth about the death of her writer mother. Anna, a new student with a wild imagination, challenges Kallie with the fanciful tales she tells about her life and helps her learn that stories provide comfort from reality even if they aren’t based in fact. Three grayscale illustrations with dark lines accompany the text in moments that correspond to the stages of the hero’s journey, which Kallie learns about in her English class. Cohen weaves together Kallie’s story with a fairy tale that follows Liah, a bone carver’s apprentice. Liah’s adventure increases the tension, builds momentum, and darkens the tone of the overall story.
A suspenseful mystery with haunting touches of fairy-tale magic. (Fantasy. 8-12)