Colleen Mondor Reviews Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, Xiran Jay Zhao (McElderry Books 978-1-6659-0070-6, $17.99, 352pp, hc) May 2022. Cover by Velinxi.

According to the acknowledgements, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor was born of author Xiran Jay Zhao’s “obsession with Chinese history, sci-fi concepts, and shonen-anime-esque adventure stories” which combine into “one bonkers book.” If any of those things appeal to you, especially adventure, then you are going to love ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Other Side of Night by Adam Hamdy

The Other Side of Night, Adam Hamdy (Atria Books 978-1-9821-9618-9, $27.00, hc, 282pp) September 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.

For much of his complex and thoughtful book, Adam Hamdy’s The Other Side of Night presents as a tightly crafted crime novel. There is a child possibly in peril, a dogged former cop who lost her job despite being very good at it, two murders (maybe), and many red herrings. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna, Adalyn Grace (Little, Brown 978-0-316-15823-7, $18.99, hc, 403pp) August 2022.

In Adalyn Grace’s historical fantasy Belladonna, 19-year-old orphan Signa has a problem with Death. He seems to be stalking her, following her from one complicated family situation to another, and always leaving a body behind. She can see Death, she talks to Death, but she doesn’t understand his motivations or how the two of them have formed ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

The Ballad of Perilous Graves, Alex Jennings (Redhook 978-0-7595-5719-2, $28.00, hc, 480pp) June 2022. Cover by Lisa Marie Pompilio.

In a letter to readers of his debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves, author Alex Jen­nings notes that the book was prompted by a discussion back in 2009 about children returning to New Orleans without their parents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failure. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

These Fleeting Shadows, Kate Alice Marshall (Viking Books for Young Readers 978-0-593-40511-6, $18.99, 357pp, hc) August 2022.

These Fleeting Shadows is described by the publisher as ‘‘The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out,’’ which is certainly apt but really nowhere close to what this creepy novel with its unforeseeable plot twists and complex characters is all about. Yes, the house is haunted, and yes, the family ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wild Hunt by Emma Seckel

The Wild Hunt, Emma Seckel (Tin House 978-1-953534-22-4, $16.95, 360pp, tp) August 2022.

Set in one of the lesser populated of the Shet­land Islands, The Wild Hunt is a historical novel steeped in supernatural stories and the lingering horrors of war. It can be read both as a tightly woven drama about a community’s struggle to cope with cumulative grief, and also as a darkly appealing look at the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Our Crooked Hearts, Melissa Albert (Flatiron 978-1-250-82636-7, $19.99, 368pp, hc) June 2022. Cover by Jim Tierney.

Melissa Albert’s Our Crooked Hearts is a witch book that manages to be about teenagers finding their way, (and who to trust), while at the same time taking a long hard look at the often compli­cated relationships between parents and children. Granted, this particular parent/child relationship is more complex than most (magic will ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid

Before Takeoff, Adi Alsaid (Knopf 978-0-593-37576-1, $18.99, 336pp, hc) June 2022.

Adi Alsaid’s Before Takeoff takes place during one long, bizarre, somewhat terrifying, delay-filled day in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Interna­tional Airport. James and Michelle are waiting for separate flights home with their parents, wandering around, killing time, when the airport goes dark, everyone becomes trapped, and a series of bizarre occurrences hit the concourses. It’s snowing in one place, growing ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Moth Girl by Heather Kamins

The Moth Girl, Heather Kamins (Putnam 978-0-593-10936-6, $17.99, 258pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by Hsiao Ron Cheng.

In The Moth Girl, author Heather Kamins puts a fantasy spin on a devastating contemporary problem, that of the sudden diagnosis of chronic illness. Because this is not a straightforward drama, however, the illness is thoroughly unex­pected. Teen cross-country runner Anna is, by her definition, ‘‘happily average.’’ Then she begins to ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill

The Ogress and the Orphans, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin 978-1-64375-074-3, $19.99, 390pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by Yuta Onoda.

I am sure the Newbery Medal committee is already well aware of Kelly Barnhill’s lumi­nous, reassuring, and bracingly intelligent novel The Ogress and the Orphans, so they hardly need me to demand their attention to it with this review. I am so delighted with this book, and how it easily ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews This Is Not the Real World by Anna Carey

This Is Not the Real World, Anna Carey (Quirk 978-1-68369-281-2, $18.99, 288pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by Silke Werzinger.

Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for This Is Not the Jess Show.

Anna Carey’s This Is Not the Real World opens five months after the events of This Is Not the Jess Show. Protagonist Jess and her boyfriend Kipps have successfully escaped the reality TV show in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Book of Living Secrets by Madeleine Roux

The Book of Living Secrets, Madeleine Roux (Quill Tree Books 978-0-06-294142-8, $17.99, 400pp, hc) March 2022.

If you are looking for a YA take on Lovecraftian horror, then Madeleine Roux’s The Book of Liv­ing Secrets is here to fulfill your needs. The title doesn’t start out as a date with Cthulhu however, as Adelle and Connie present themselves as two typical teenagers growing up in Boston with a shared ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Gallant, V.E. Schwab (Greenwillow 978-0-06-283577-2, $18.99, 352pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by David Curtis.

Victoria Schwab’s Gallant is a dark confection, a tale that shares tropes with gothic classics (a curse, ghosts, a house of faded glamour that is shrouded in mystery) and pins its hope for a happy ending on a tortured heroine who is haunted by the secrets of a past she never knew. There is a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

Lakelore, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel and Friends 978-1-250-62414-7, $18.99, 304pp, hc) March 2022. Cover by Carolina Rodriguez Fuenmayor.

The delicate contemporary fantasy Lakelore uses author Anna-Marie McLemore’s fa­miliar lush language to describe a strange and beautiful world beneath a lake and the two teenagers who explore it. The magic elements are subtle and largely expressed through the papier-mâché construction of alebrije, Mexican folk art sculptures of imaginary creature which come ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Book of Night by Holly Black

Book of Night, Holly Black (Tor 978-1-250-81219-3, $27.99, hc, 320pp) May 2022.

Bestselling YA author Holly Black makes her long-awaited adult debut with the dark fantasy Book of Night. Set in ‘‘the Silicon Valley of shadow magic’’ (aka Western Massachusetts), with reformed thief and conwoman Charlie Hall at its center, Book of Night introduces a world where shadows can be re­moved, enhanced, or manipulated. This is unpredict­able magic ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

Blood Scion, Deborah Falaye (Harper Teen 978-0-06-295404-4, $18.99, hc, 432pp) March 2022. Cover by Taj Francis.

Deborah Falaye’s Blood Scion is an intense and sometimes brutal immersion into the horrors of colonialism, war, and oppression that is undeni­ably one of the season’s most powerful reads. Take this warning to heart: There is a lot of violence depicted and discussed in this novel, including rape, beating, and the horrors inflicted ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Deeds

Comeuppance Served Cold, Marion Deeds (Tor­dotcom 978-1-250-81108-0, $16.99, tp, 192pp) March 2022. Cover by Helen Crawford-White.

The prize for most original book I’ve read in a while goes to Comeuppance Served Cold, a magical caper yarn by Marion Deeds. Set in an alternate 1929 Seattle, where Prohibition has spurred a black market full of speakeasys and bootleggers, Comeuppance Served Cold is the story of Dolly White, who appears ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

A River Enchanted, Rebecca Ross (Harper Voyager 978-1-250-81107-3, $27.99, hc, 480pp) February 2022.

In Rebecca Ross’s enthralling mystery/fan­tasy/drama/romance, A River Enchanted, Jack Tamerlaine is called home to the island of Cadence for reasons he does not understand. Steeped in the magic of the spirits who reside on the land and in the water surrounding the is­land, Cadence is also in the midst of a long-term conflict between the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow

A Comb of Wishes, Lisa Stringfellow (Quill Tree Books 978-0-06-304345-9, $16.99, hc, 272pp) February 2022.

In some ways, Lisa Stringfellow’s A Comb of Wishes, which was heavily influenced by her father’s West Indian immigrant culture, is a classic ‘‘be careful what you wish for’’ fantasy. With a young protagonist, Kela, who is reeling from her mother’s accidental death only a few months earlier, the novel offers a poignant ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster, Vanessa Len (Harper Teen 978-0-06-302466-3, $18.99, hc, 416pp) February 2022.

The cover for Vanessa Len’s Only a Mon­ster includes this great teaser: ‘‘In every story there is a hero and a monster. She is not the hero.’’ It is quickly clear who ‘‘she’’ is: the novel’s protagonist, Joan, whose very normal life is upended in the book’s opening pages when she learns she, like all the ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews From Dust, A Flame by Rebecca Podos

From Dust, A Flame, Rebecca Podos (Balzer + Bray 978-0-06-269906-0, $17.39, hc, 416pp) February 2022.

Hannah Williams enjoys a largely manage­able life with her widowed mother and wicked cool older brother, Gabe, finding new homes from city to city in a variety of houses, cabins, apartments, and cottages. They move for no reason other than their mother’s restless spirit but have always landed on their feet and settle in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly

Base Notes, Lara Elena Donnelly (Thomas & Mercer 978-1-542-03070-0, $15.95, tp, 408pp) January 2022.

Lara Elena Donnelly’s Base Notes appears ini­tially (if you ignore the dead body in the brief introduction) to be about perfumer Vic Fowler’s unique ability to capture memories in scent. Vic is struggling to keep her small perfume company afloat in a hostile financial environment, and a side hustle selling these special perfumes to high ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Temperature of Me and You by Brian Zepka

The Temperature of Me and You, Brian Zepka (Disney-Hyperion 978-1-36806-471-2, $17.99, hc, 416 pp) January 2022.

Author Brian Zepka set out to blend a sweet romance with high school drama and a major science fiction twist in The Temperature of Me and You, a novel involving the teen victim of a lab accident/experiment that has left him literally burning from the inside out. I’ll be honest; I’m a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton

Shattered Midnight, Dhonielle Clayton (Hy­perion 978-1-368-04642-8, $17.99, hc, 304pp) January 2022.

The Mirror series, which began with Julie C. Dao’s Broken Wish in 2020, continues with Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton. Set in New Orleans in 1928, it is full of historic atmo­sphere, immersing readers in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the city that Zara Broussard now calls home. There is a great sense of foreboding, however, both ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen

No Beauties or Monsters, Tara Goedjen (Dela­corte Press 978-1-5247-1480-2, $17.99, hc 356pp.) December 2021. Cover by Jack Hughes.

In No Beauties or Monsters, Rylie and her fam­ily have returned to the US Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms CA after a tragic accident four years earlier. From the very first pages author Tara Goedjen piles on the foreshadowing, with strange creatures sighted, mysterious fog, oblique mes­sages from Rylie’s ...Read More

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Charles Payseur Reviews Short Fiction: Anathema, Mermaids Monthly, Zooscape, and FIYAH

Anathema 12/21 Mermaids Monthly 12/21 Zooscape 12/21 Fiyah 12/21, 1/22

Every year a few publications put out is­sues on December 31, and 2021 was no exception. Aside from Baffling Magazine, which I looked at last column, both Anathema and Mermaids Monthly released their December issues on the final day of the month and year, and while that might make them easy for busy readers to miss, both are very much ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl

The Grimrose Girls, Laura Pohl (Sourcebooks Fire 978-1-7282-2887-7, $10.99, tp, 400pp) November 2021.

Laura Pohl’s The Grimrose Girls is set in an elite, extra gothic-y, boarding school in Switzerland where three classmates are reeling from the recent death of their best friend, Ariane. It is no surprise that Ella, Yuki, and Rory are unsettled by the loss and deeply suspi­cious of the circumstances surrounding Ariane’s drowning. So, following in ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Bright Ruined Things, Samantha Cohoe (Wednesday Books 978-1-25-076884-1, $18.99, 352pp, hc) February 2022.

Samantha Cohoe’s intriguing mashup of Shake­speare’s The Tempest and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby makes for a thoroughly immersive read. Set on an island dominated by the wealthy and powerful Prosper family, Bright Ruined Things focuses on a single day when 18-year old Mae, daughter of a deceased but much loved retainer of Lord Prosper, finds herself ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Upper World by Femi Fadugba

The Upper World, Femi Fadugba (Penguin UK 978-0-24-150561-8, £7.99, 368pp, tp) August 2021. (Harper Teen 978-0-06-307859-8, $18.99, 368pp, hc) December 2021.

In a note to readers preceding his perceptive debut title, The Upper World, author Femi Fadugba recalls a quantum physics paper he wrote as a university student which was published in a respected scientific journal leading to a na­tional award and presentation before the Houses of Parliament. ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Walking in Two Worlds, Wab Kinew (Penguin 978-0-7352-6900-2, $17.99, 281pp, hc) Septem­ber 2021. Cover by Jay Soule | CHIPPEWAR.

Bagonegiizhigok ‘‘Bugz’’ Holiday lives on the Anishinaabe Reservation where she is a mostly happy, somewhat anxious, a little bit frustrated, but dearly loved teenager. With a handsome, athletically gifted older brother (who’s also a really great guy) capturing a lot of attention, Bugz buries her insecurities about her body and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Terciel & Elinor by Garth Nix

Terciel & Elinor, Garth Nix (Katherine Tegan 978-0-06304-932-1, $19.99, hc 352pp) Novem­ber 2021.

Terciel & Elinor is a prequel to Garth Nix’s blockbuster Sabriel, taking place more than a decade before that character was born. Readers need not worry that they must be familiar with the Old Kingdom in order to enjoy this new book, however. Nix provides plenty of backstory for his fans to enjoy, but anyone ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2021 by Colleen Mondor

Of the three dozen books I reviewed for Locus last year, there were a few that particularly stood out. Because last year was, well, such a year, I’m afraid some of them might have been overlooked, and taking advantage of my chance here to shine the spotlight a little brighter on those I think might have been missed.

Femi Fadugba’s The Upper World introduces Esso, who is having the worst ...Read More

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