This winter brings a range of creative and intriguing young adult fantasy novels, something for diehard fans of the genre as well as those who may not normally seek it out. Here are a few of my favorites, all released on Feb. 6:
Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles is set in Orléans, a world in which everyone begins life drearily gray-hued. By hiring one of the Belles, who possess the power to change one’s appearance as often as one wishes—and can afford—one can be transformed from drab to dreamy. In this world of luxury and social striving, Camellia Beauregard is at first thrilled to become the queen’s favorite Belle, but it soon becomes clear that this position brings with it grave and frightening consequences.
The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle, translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon, is a richly romantic, fairy tale-infused story in which a prince from the Kingdoms finds himself stranded among humans in interwar Paris. Desperate to be reunited with his fairy lover, he must piece together clues in a race against time. Along the way he ends up fighting the Nazis and encountering the little boy who one day will relate this remarkable story, a blend of historical fiction and fantasy that will appeal to Neil Gaiman fans.
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson offers a highly original scenario that will engage readers who enjoy magical realism and humor. As if being born as the product of a virgin birth (with a completely scientific explanation!) weren’t enough to make her a high school outcast, Elena also discovers that she has the power to cure people of disease, injury, and mental affliction—but this is a gift that comes with a steep price, and it’s up to her to decide whether and when to respond to the increasing clamors for help.