Colleen Mondor Reviews The Wicked Remain by Laura Pohl

The Wicked Remain, Laura Pohl (Source­books Fire 978-1-7282-2890-7, $10.99, tp, 462 pp) September 2022. Cover by Ray Shappell.

Laura Pohl finishes off her Grimrose Girls duology with The Wicked Remain and there is a lot, A LOT, to absorb in this 450+ page read. Picking up soon after the events of The Grimrose Girls, our four heroines are reeling from the discovery in that book that they are ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Grave Things Like Love by Sara Bennett Wealer

Grave Things Like Love, Sara Bennett Wealer (Delacorte 978-0-593-70355-7, $12.99, tp, 332pp) November 2022. Cover by David Seidman.

In Sara Bennett Wealer’s Grave Things Like Love, protagonist Elaine Gillies has the dubious distinction of being ‘‘funeral girl,’’ a teenager whose family has owned the local funeral home, where they also live, for more than a century. Caught between her frazzled and overworked parents, who constantly pile tasks onto ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Sangu Mandanna (Berkley 978-0-593-43935-7, $17.00, tp, 316 pp) November 2022. Cover by Lisa Perrin.

For much of the time I was reading Sangu Mandanna’s The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, I was waiting for the other literary shoe to drop. Something bad, I was certain, had to happen. As British witch Mika Moon took on the job of educating a ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Wait for Me by Sara Shepard

Wait for Me, Sara Shepard (Union Square & Co. 978-1-4549-4577-2, $18.99, hc, 320pp) Novem­ber 2022. Cover by Erin Fitzsimmons.

Sara Shepard’s Wait for Me is a thriller that might be about ghosts and reincarnation or might be about an unreliable protagonist struggling with mental illness and some well-meaning but seriously intrusive friends and relatives. I was re­ally onboard with the reincarnation angle, which includes an undying romance, until I ...Read More

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The Year in Review 2022 by Colleen Mondor

I average three books a month reviewed for Locus, occasionally managing to squeeze in a fourth. Of the 40 or so books I read for the magazine in 2022, sev­eral impressed me ei­ther for their twisty sur­prises, unique stories, or the sheer beauty of their writing. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of the year, each of which I heartily recom­mend.

Rebecca Ross’s fantasy A River En­chanted

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Even Though I Knew the End C.L. Polk

Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tor­dotcom 978-1-2508-4945-8, $19.99, hc, 144pp) November 2022.

Oh. My. God. If you are a fan of noir, if you love a dark crime mystery with a supernatural twist, if complicated family dynamics are a favorite addition to your drama reading experience, and if romance – solid, true, emotionally intense relationship-py romance – makes you happy, then you must read C.L. Polk’s ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Collectors by Philip Pullman

The Collectors, Philip Pullman (Knopf 978-0-593-37834-2, $14.99, hc, 68pp) September 2022.

Originally released as an audiobook in 2014, Philip Pullman’s short story “The Collectors” is now available in an illustrated gift book edition that will be most welcome to his fans. A compan­ion to His Dark Materials (and the The Book of Dust), The Collectors is largely composed of an evening conversation between two friends, both art collectors, ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

Ghostlight, Kenneth Oppel (Knopf 978-0-593-48793-8, $17.99, hc, 387pp) September 2022. Cover by Katrina Damkoehler.

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel has all the hall­marks of classic teen mystery. There’s a trio of friends spending their summer working in the town amusement park who suddenly find themselves engaged in deadly battle against a terrifying ghost. One of the kids can see a local ghost, one is a mechanical savant, and one is ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Paradox, Olivie Blake (Tor 978-1-250-85509-1, $27.99, hc, 416pp) October 2022. Cover by Jamie Stafford-Hill.

Blake returned in October with the latest installment in The Atlas series, The Atlas Para­dox, and quickly tossed readers into more intrigue with the Society of Alexandrians and the drama surrounding its newest members. Fans of the first book, The Atlas Six, will be well aware of the major twist and ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Singer Distance by Ethan Chatagnier

Singer Distance, Ethan Chatagnier (Tin House 978-1-95353-443-9, $27.95, hc, 280pp) October 2022.

In the slightly altered Earth history of Ethan Chatagnier’s Singer Distance, Mars made contact in 1896, but not in the way readers may likely expect. Rather than the bold arrival of a spacecraft, this interplanetary communication was prefaced by a Dutch astronomer’s large scale art carving of parallel marks in a Tunisian desert in 1894. When ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee

The Nightland Express, J.M. Lee (Erewhon 978-1-64566-003-3, $18.95, hc, 368pp) October 2022. Cover by Jeff Langevin.

In J.M. Lee’s The Nightland Express, it is 1860, and Jessamine Murphy and Ben Foley have each answered an advertisement from the Pony Express:

Special Assignment. St Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Two Riders Wanted. Young, Skinny, Wiry Fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans ...Read More

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Colleen Mondor Reviews Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Dead Flip, Sara Farizan (Algonquin 978-1-64375-080-4, $17.99, 272pp, hc) August 2022. Cover by Colin Verdi.

The premise for Sara Farizan’s latest novel Dead Flip is right up my alley. Set in 1987, it’s about 12-year-old Sam who is kidnapped by a ‘‘supernatural pinball machine’’ and then returns, without aging a day, five years later. The vast gulf between 12 and 17 is perfect fodder for conflict and the mystery ...Read More

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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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