Last week, I wrote a manifesto—well, maybe not a manifesto, exactly, though I was definitely feeling Impassioned and Somewhat Heated—about the necessity of evangelizing for and about the fabulous books that always get shoved aside to make room for more copies of Twilight or The Help or whatever this week’s Big Book happens to be. At the end, I promised to recommend a series that deserves much more attention than it’s received thus far.
And so here we are.
Read more new and notable books for teens this September.
Fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, Tamora Pierce, Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel books and/or Ellen Kushner’s Privilege of the Sword: Take note. Everyone else—especially those predisposed toward fantasy novels featuring political intrigue, strong world-building and rough-and-tumble female protagonists—take note as well.
Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Thief Errant series—which debuted last year with StarCrossed and which will continue this November with Liar’s Moon—is one that you should seek out. At first glance, the series is nothing like her first novel, the William C. Morris Award-winning A Curse as Dark as Gold, but upon further reflection (and a reread or two), similarities emerge.
The books aren’t at all similar in terms of plot or character, and Bunce certainly doesn’t write according to a recognizable formula*. Even within the Thief Errant series, there’s not a formula: StarCrossed and Liar’s Moon are different in plot, setting and pacing. In StarCrossed, we meet our intrepid heroine as she escapes from a robbery gone so horribly wrong that she’ll be executed if she’s caught. She spends the entire book as a fish-out-of-water, both in an unfamiliar place and pretending to be someone and something she very much is not. In Liar’s Moon, Digger is back on her own turf and among her own people...until she gets plucked off the street and chucked into a jail cell with the last person she’d have ever expected to see there.
Along with Curse, they’re similar in that they bear up to—and improve upon—rereading. The first time through, you’ll concentrate on figuring out the world and meeting the characters and following the story. But when you read them again, you’ll notice how multilayered they are. You’ll notice hints and subtleties of character and plot, and you’ll notice just how carefully they are crafted. You’ll notice that the characters are fully realized people—so much so that it’s easy to forget that they’re fictional creations, even if they do live in a world with three moons.
So, yes, they’re beautifully written, rich fantasies. AND they’ve got adventure and intrigue; humor and way-swoony romance**; suspense, mystery and huge, huge surprises. Like? The fact that Liar’s Moon ends with the most unexpected plot twist EVER.
I’m already dying for the third book.
I wish I hadn’t already read them. Even though they improve with each read, I’d like to be able to experience them again for the first time.
*Like, for instance, Michael Crichton’s Main Character Can’t Quite Remember The Crucial Piece of Information For Hundreds Of Pages Until The Very Last Second When It Turns Out To Be The Exact Right Fact He Needs To Save The World formula.
**Seriously: I love everyone involved so much that I don’t even know WHO to root for.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is probably maniacally organizing all of her music into far-too-specific Spotify playlists.