Colleen Mondor Reviews The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X.R. Pan (Little Brown 978-0-316-46399-7, $18.99, 462pp, hc) March 2018.

The unreliable narrator has a long and il­lustrious career in fiction, taunting readers with questions of fantasy versus reality in novels ranging from We Have Always Lived in the Castle to Gone Girl. Either because they are shameless liars, accidental embellishers, or suffering from a degree of mental illness or trauma, unreliable narrators lead ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Half-Witch by John Schoffstall

Half-Witch, John Schoffstall (Big Mouth Press 978-1-61-873140-1, $18.99, 322pp) July 2018.

There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest. In John Schofstall’s Half-Witch, everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this ad­venture a classic read. The novel’s most unusual plot device is the presence ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

My Plain Jane, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows (Harper Teen 978-0-06-265277-5, $17.99, 464pp) June 2018.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: you do not need to have read (or liked) Jane Eyre to enjoy the hell out of My Plain Jane. Over the years I have tried to finish Charlotte Brontë’s “masterpiece” many times and could never get past my frustration with Jane’s willingness to ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman, eds. (Greenwillow 978-0-06-267115-8, $17.99, 336pp, hc) June 2018.

In the introduction to A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, editors Elsie Chapman & Ellen Oh write of their deep love for myth and leg­end, something many readers will likely identify with. However, for Chapman and Oh, immersion in tales of Greek and Norse gods, while exciting, was always a bit disappointing. The ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult, Leslye Walton (Candlewick Press 978-0-7636-9110-3, $18.99, 288pp, hc) March 2018.

The Price Guide to the Occult begins with the story of an island in the Pacific Northwest and the small group of mostly male settlers who arrived there in the mid-1840s. In this prologue, author Leslye Walton sets up the long dark tale of the Blackburn women and the generational burdens inflicted upon them ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Meet Me in the Strange by Leander Watts

Meet Me in the Strange, Leander Watts (Meerkat 978-1-946154-15-6, $16.95, 234pp, hc) March 2018.

This is one unique book.

I was chapters into Meet Me in the Strange before I fully realized that the reviewer part of my brain needed to be turned off (stop noting names and locations, stop paying attention to setting descriptions and plot development) and I just needed to take the ride this book was offering. ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Midnight at the Electric, Jodi Lynn Anderson (Harper Teen 978-0-06-239354-8, $17.99, 257pp, hc) June 2017.

Jodi Lynn Anderson accomplishes something unique with Midnight at the Electric, taking a novel clearly set in the future, (the protagonist has just been accepted to a Mars colony program), but grounding it in a historical mystery. This is science fiction that has broad potential appeal; traditional SF readers will be attracted to the glimpses ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

Cadaver & Queen, Alisa Kwitney (Harlequin Teen 978-1-335-47046-1, $18.99, 320pp, hc) February 2018.

In Alisa Kwitney’s alternate history Cadaver & Queen, the governments of Europe are laser-focused on constructing armies of “Bio-Mechan­icals.” These mechanized cadavers are perceived as the solution to the most painful cost of war: human soldiers lost to combat. The problem is that Bio-Mechanicals have proven themselves to be good at shuffling along and taking basic direction, ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince, Holly Black (Little, Brown 978-0-316-31027-7, $18.99, 371pp, hc) Janu­ary 2018.

Immersing oneself in the writing of author Holly Black, readers quickly discern that her formula is to create intricate, tricky, heart-stopping plots in which her characters will end up running for their lives across brilliantly invented landscapes, while also cementing and/or blowing up friendships and possibly falling in love (or at the very least engaging in some ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill 978-0-448-49390-9, $17.99, 296pp) October 2017.

Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi draws deep on his mother’s Nigerian roots in the world-building extravaganza Beasts Made of Night. Based on the bustling metropolis of Lagos, the walled city Kos is ruled by the elite Kaya family, dominated by the priest-like Mages and suspicious of the sin-eating young aki. The royal Kayas are entitled and oblivious, the Mages ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Possible by Tara Altebrando

The Possible, Tara Altebrando (Bloomsbury 978-1-61963-805-1, $17.99, 292 pages) June 2017.

For the first six pages of The Possible, Tara Altebrando wrote a YA novel about a smart-ass 17-year old named Kaylee who has two best friends, a crush on a classmate, and a killer talent on the softball mound. All of this is familiar territory and Altebrando delivers it with a degree of sass and wit that conjures up ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin 978-1-61620-797-7, $24.95, 304pp, hc) February 2018.

Kelly Barnhill follows up her Newbery Medal-winning The Girl Who Drank the Moon in a most unexpected fash­ion: with a collection of fantastical short stories for older teens and adults. Dreadful Young La­dies and Other Stories is the kind of writing that does not rely on shock and awe, but rather on fascinating characters doing ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

The Hollow Girl, Hillary Monahan (Dela­corte 978-1-5247-0186-4, $17.99, 272pp, hc) October 2017.

Author Hillary Monahan takes readers into the world of the Romany people in this brutal blending of realistic fiction and fantasy. Set at some point of the Welsh past (there are no mentions of electronic devices or cars), The Hollow Girl follows the story of Bethan and her grandmother, Drina, the clan’s revered and fearsome wise woman. While ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

The Wingsnatchers, Sarah Jean Horwitz (Al­gonquin 978-1-61620-663-51, $17.95, 368pp, hc) April 2017.

Debut novelist Sarah Jean Horwitz brings together some of the best aspects of ste­ampunk and fantasy in The Wingsnatch­ers, a fun novel set in the Victorian London-ish town of Skemantis. (Where the streets teem with “a churning mass of steam carriages, bicycles, velocycles and pedestrians….”) Thirteen-year-old Felix Carmer works as an apprentice to the con­genial but fading magician ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic 978-0-545-93080-2, $18.99, 320pp, hc) October 2017.

Young adult powerhouse Maggie Stiefvater dives into magic realism with her latest book, All the Crooked Saints. Set in the fictional Colorado desert enclave of Bicho Raro, the novel follows the travails of the Soria family, who are gifted (or cursed) with the ability to perform miracles. Pilgrims come from far and wide seeking solace from their ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Ghosts of Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion Books 978-0-544-99146-0, $17.99, 464pp, hc) October 2017.

There is something positively delightful about sinking into the plot-heavy, character-rich, never-dull-for-a-moment novels of Kate Milford. From the intense rural scares of The Boneshaker to the historical high seas of The Left-Handed Fate, Milford’s trademark combination of mystery and fantasy, with no small amount of action, is immensely appealing for younger teens. In Greenglass House she ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances, Emily Bain Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 978-0-544-87936-2, $17.99, 385pp, hc) July 2017.

Initially, Emily Bain Murphy’s The Disap­pearances reads as straightforward histori­cal fiction. It’s 1942 and teenage Aila is fac­ing the stark reality of life in the wake of her mother’s recent death. To make matters worse, her father is off to the war in the Pacific and she and her younger brother Miles must go live with ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

Black Light Express, Philip Reeve (Switch Press 978-1630790966, $17.95, 352pp, tp) Au­gust 2017.

Philip Reeve’s absolutely incredible world building again takes center stage in Black Light Express, the sequel to Railhead. The second book picks up soon after the events that brought Railhead to a stunning close, with for­mer thief and unwitting catalyst Zen Starling having fled the Network Empire along with Nova, his android girlfriend. Meanwhile, com­pletely against her ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor Reviews Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

Shadowhouse Fall, Daniel José Older (Scho­lastic 978-0-545-95282-8, $18.99, 368pp, tp) September 2017.

Here’s a sequel I’ve been very excited to read: Daniel José Older’s Shadowhouse Fall! Following up on the smash hit, Shadowshaper, the sequel returns to Brooklyn and its band of unlikely teen ‘‘urban sorcerers’’ in yet another exciting thriller that tackles both the prevailing social issues of our time and some dark monsters intent on nefarious deeds. Every­thing ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty, Anna-Marie McLemore (Feiwel and Friends 978-1-250-12455-5, $17.99, 352pp, hc) October 2017.

Entering into the lush, gorgeous garden of writ­ing that infuses Anna-Marie McLemore’s Wild Beauty, readers are lulled into thinking that what lies before them is a diversionary romance with moments of peril neatly inserted into a plot whose happily-ever-after ending is pre-ordained from the start. This, of course, is probably what McLemore wants readers to think; how ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault

The Leaf Reader, Emily Arsenault (Soho Teen 978-1-61695-782-7, $18.99, 240pp, tp) June 2017.

Emily Arsenault has been writing quirky mys­teries for adults for some time, garnering her a much-deserved following from card catalog aficionados (for The Broken Tea Glass) to Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn fans (for Miss Me When I’m Gone). Now with her young adult debut, The Leaf Reader, the author dives deep into the missing ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

In Other Lands, Sarah Rees Brennan (Small Beer/Big Mouth House 978-1-6187-312-03, $19.95, 465pp) August 2017. Cover by Carolyn Nowak.

I have rewritten the first paragraph of this re­view a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subver­sive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines ...Read More

Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Leah Bobet

An Inheritance of Ashes, Leah Bobet (Clarion 978-0544281110, $17.99, 400pp, hc) October 2015.

In Leah Bobet’s new fantasy, An Inheritance of Ashes, there is an early scene that could have come from any history of the U.S. Civil War. The teen protagonist, Hallie, is working the fields of the farm she and her older sister are struggling to hold onto, in a setting reminiscent of late 1865 America:

...Read More
Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Nicole Kornher-Stace

Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Small Beer/Big Mouth House, 978-1618730978, 256 pp, tp, $14.00) May 2015.Nicole Kornher-Stace’s new novel Archivist Wasp is an utterly beguiling and intense book on bravery for teens. Set in a post-technological world that harkens back to the Middle Ages, the story is steeped in myth and fear with levels of brutality that put The Hunger Games to shame. It is also utterly unique and further

...Read More
Read more

Colleen Mondor reviews Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine 9780545591614, $17.99, 304pp, hc) June 2015.

Behind the decidedly fierce cover of Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper is the story of a young woman thrust into a fast-paced adventure that is heavy with magic and mystery. While grounded in the urban Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, there are elements of old world power threaded throughout the narrative and a deep respect for the past

...Read More
Read more