I’ve been fast and furiously reading a ton of YA novels, and there are two very distinct fantasy novels that have passed through my hands. Here’s a short review of two of them:
The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert Flatiron Books, 2018
Alice is used to her quirky life with her mom. Constantly moving, she has never really created roots. But then her mother stops moving and finally Alice can take a breath, even though she must share her breathing room with a new family.
Alice never really knew anyone in her family, but she knows of them, especially her famous grandmother, who lives at the Hazelwood and is world famous for the only book she wrote: Tales from the Hinterland. And now, Alice will need that book in order to find and rescue her mother….
This book isn’t any old and ordinary fairy tale book. The tales spun in them are dark, brooding and dangerous, with the main characters in each tale more than likely to do harm than grant wishes. She enlists the help of Ellery, a friend from school, to track down not only this dark and dangerous book, but to find the Hazelwood…
Only to find herself alone in the Hinterlands, coming face to face with the nightmare terrors the book describes….rescue or escape is now a possibility, not a fact…
Some may call this fantasy, while others may call it magical realism. Whatever genre or sub-genre you call it, it’s still a great read that can definitely cross over beyond teens to adults. Albert weaves a provocative tale that splits the real world the characters live in with the equally real world the others make a home. If your readers enjoyed Ransom Riggs Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, they will definitely enjoy this! Recommended for 9-12 grades.
Furyborn by Claire Legrand Sourcefire Books, 2018
Welcome to the world of Avitas, where wars for power and dominance take place. Humans have finally, after years of bloody battle against angels, thwarted them behind powerful magic. But that magic is slowly disintegrating….
Rielle has lived in the kingdom of Celdaria all of her life. An appointed outcast by her father, she can be a threat to others with the power she possesses. But harnessing fire is the only one that she is aware of. It isn’t until assassins try to kill Celdaria’s prince, that her other latent powers come to the surface. Now she must pass seven tests against her powers to be crowned queen, or die trying to establish the power she possessed.
A thousand years later, angels have begun to escape. They invade human form and are now propelling their Undying Empire across the Great Ocean to Ventera, where Eliana lives. Known as the Dread of Orline, Eliana lives for the hunt…and the kill. When girls and women in her town and nearby start to unpredictably vanish, Eliana’s focus is now to find her mother, with the help of a rebel leader, who remains mysterious and infuriating.
But what she and Simon uncover is far beyond her reckoning or imagination….
What a powerful first book in a series for this author! She takes angels and makes them devils and the reader gets caught up in the magic of two different times in the same fantastical world. Each chapter is told alternately by both strong female characters and soon the reader understands just how intricate and closely threaded Rielle and Eliana are. Two queens, one prophecy. This is an amazing fantasy for high school readers due to intimate relationships between the characters. Recommended 9-12 grades.