A promising, atmospheric fantasy debut.

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THE PECULIAR

Goblins, faeries, gnomes, elflike fay, sylphs, automatons and changelings, oh my!

In an alternate Victorian England where there are vertical cities, faery slums, gnome-driven taxis, and mechanical birds, changelings Bartholomew and his sister Hettie are labeled “peculiars” by the Church. Despised by both the Sidhe and the English upper-crust, they have been kept, confined and secret, in their house. When Bartholomew witnesses a boy changeling across the street being kidnapped by a mysterious woman in a frenzy of menacing black feathers, he becomes an unwitting pawn in a battle between the dark side and the humans. Tension mounts like a stack of teetering blocks as Bartholomew tries to rescue Hettie, who is in danger of becoming the 10th kidnapped changeling killed. Can he survive to save his sister? The open ending paves the way for sequels, and the intricately detailed descriptions of sinister scenes create palpable evil that will raise readers’ hackles. The author was only 16 in 2010, when he began writing this fantasy stemming from British folklore and infused with a Dickensian flair; it’s bound to be hyped like Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. Not to be confused with a new steampunk novel for teens with the title of The Peculiars, by Maureen McQuerry (2012).

A promising, atmospheric fantasy debut. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-219518-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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