Fantasy

Dust

When did this fairy tale become a nightmare?*

A girl with flakes that fall from her skin like dust and a brother she lost to a fairy tale. A lost boy with no place to call home and an entire world that hates him. A warrior princess with a score to settle. A guardian determined to protect his realm. A group of boys set on hunting down their former leader. And a captain with a hook for a hand. The fate of Neverland rests on the shoulders of these people sprung from a storybook. Claire Kenton lost her brother. Peter Pan lost his world. In order to get both back, the lost boy and the scarred girl need to work together; and that might not be as easy as they hope.

A fairy tale has not only become a nightmare but invaded my real life.

And there’s no waking from reality.*

I would highly recommend Dust, written by Kara Swanson and published in 2020 by Enclave Publishing. This contemporary fantasy is well-written, romantic, and gripping, with nods to the old Peter Pan stories. There’s some teen romance and minor violence to watch out for, but overall this is a wholesome modern fairy tale with battles, mystery, and just a hint of fairy dust. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Time to fly*

*All excerpts taken from Dust, written by Kara Swanson and published in 2020 by Enclave Publishing.

Dandelion Wine

photo courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/ad_idaho_photography/

I’m ALIVE. Thinking about it, noticing it, is new. You do things and don’t watch. Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing and it’s the first time, really.”*

Douglas Spaulding, a 12-year-old boy living in Green Town, Illinois, is glad to be alive. It’s summer, 1928, after all, and there are forests to explore, ice creams to eat, and all sorts of adventures to be had. There’s a human time machine, a witch trapped in wax, a junkman who can save lives, two soulmates born in the wrong time, a nighttime murderer, and a man determined to create happiness with a machine. There’s a lot to accomplish in a summer in Green Town, and Douglas Spaulding is planning to live life to the fullest.

Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer, and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”*

I would highly recommend Dandelion Wine written by Ray Bradbury and published by Doubleday in 1957 for ages 15+. It is a beautiful, half-memoir half-fantasy novel with haunting prose, real themes, and beautiful, life-like characters. There are a few more mature worldview themes to watch out for, but otherwise this is a wholesome read. 5 out of 5 stars.

No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now.”*

*all excerpts taken from Dandelion Wine, written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1957 by Doubleday.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Featuring toothy cows, hidden secrets, crazy sockmen, books, Fangs, ridgerunners, and sea dragons; On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is a rip-roaring tale of adventures, intrigues, and three children-Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby. These children, living in a little house in the Glipwood Township have perfectly ordinary lives, or so they think-until a series of strange events occur that lead them to believe that perhaps their lives aren’t quite as ordinary as they thought. The ferocious Fangs of Dang are seeking for the lost jewels of Anniera, which are somehow tangled up in the history of the three Igiby children, their mother, and their ex-pirate grandfather; and the Fangs are determined to find the Igiby’s at any cost.

I would highly recommend On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, written by Andrew Peterson and published in 2008 by Waterbrook Press, for ages 10+. It’s witty, fun, fast-paced, and the plot twists will leave you on the edge of your seat. There is some minor violence to watch out for with younger readers. All in all, a well-written, wholesome book with unique characters and a twisty storyline. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Coral

“A broken shell tore into the skin of her left foot. She winced and withdrew. Blood, red and angry, drip drip dripped onto the sand, dissolving in an instant. As if it never was.

Better a bleeding sole than a tortured soul.

A soul that was nothing now. Because before preluded after.

And after. Was never as it was. Before.”*

Coral, mermaid princess of the sea, is slowly succumbing to a fatal, human-originated disease: emotions. Her sister, the Crown Princess, already has been taken by its cruel waters-and Coral fears the Red Tide is coming for her next.

Brooke, teenage girl on the west coast, is close to giving up. Depression, anxiety, and trauma have pushed her to the breaking point and she’s trying a therapy home as a last resort. But if nothing will be as it was Before, what’s the point of going on?

Merrick, famous and wealthy golden boy of San Francisco, wants to escape both his father and his social status. But when his sister attempts suicide and his mom vanishes, his life is thrown upside down and he doesn’t know what else to do except escape.

When these three lives collide there can either be healing or heartache…and sometimes both exist in the same story.

I would highly recommend Coral, written by Sara Ella and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson for mature readers 17+. A truly breathtaking and heart wrenching novel about love, loss, and mental health, this re-written fairy tale will grip your soul as you read it. There are several mature themes throughout the book including self harm, unwanted advances, and other traumatic experiences. Coral is written with a theme of hope, memorable characters, and an intriguing storyline. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“…after will never be the same again.”*

*all excerpts taken from Coral, written by Sara Ella and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson

Inkheart

Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke and published in 2003 by Dressler Verlag, is a tale of stories slipping from the pages of books they belong in and entering the real world, bringing their magic, rivalries, and dangers with them. Follow the adventures of 12-year-old Meggie, her father Mo, and the enigmatic Dustfinger as they travel the countryside in an attempt to stop the villain Capricorn from covering the world with a darkness taken from the pages of his origin book. Fairy tales, classics, mythology, and reality collide as the Silvertongues read from their books in an attempt to save their own world.

I would highly recommend this book for ages 14+. It is well written, rich with literary references, and packed with adventure at every turn of the page. There are a few minor inappropriate jokes and some usage of mature language, as well as violence to watch out for. Full of memorable characters, a unique storyline, and bookish quotes, Inkheart is a book that will keep you up until the early hours of the morning. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Lost and Found Journal of a Miner 49er

The Lost and Found Journal of a Miner 49er is a collection of tales regarding river mermaids, journeys, boxing kangaroos, love, bandits, acts of valor, and daring escapades. This novel features the brave Miner 49er, also known as Cody Kirschenbaum, and his darling daughter, Clementine. As you read these 17 wild adventures that take place at the time of the Gold Rush, you’ll learn valuable lessons, laugh at Cody’s dry wit and outlandish stories, and enjoy a good, Western fantasy book.

I would recommend this book, written by Jack Dublin, for ages 10+. Well written, humorous, with unexpected twists and fantastical creatures set in Gold Rush California; this book is great for a bit of lighthearted reading. 3.5 out of 5 stars.     

Keeper of the Lost Cities

Sophie Foster is an extraordinary 12-year-old girl. Ever since she was 5 years old, she’s had a very special ability-she can hear people’s thoughts. Because of this unexplainable talent, she never fits in anywhere, and never really feels like she belongs. When she meets a boy named Fitz who can do the same thing she can, she finds out that she’s not all that she thought, and that there is somewhere for her to belong. She has to leave everything behind and embark on a wild adventure in a new place, with new rules to learn and a new culture to experience. Learning to control her massive powers and abilities is just part of her new life. When her new friends discover that there are hidden secrets inside of her head, they have to endeavor to keep her safe; for there are things inside of her that people would kill for. Sophie has to discover who she really is, and why she was hidden with the humans; for she might be the key to unraveling her new world…unless her enemies reach her first.
Keeper of the Lost Cities, written by Shannon Messenger and published in 2012 by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, is a riveting story of new beginnings, belonging, and a fantastical world. This book would fall under the middle grade fantasy genre.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 12+. There is some violence and romance to watch out for, but it is a very well written book with memorable characters and fun world building details. All in all, a book well worth the read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. *

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published by Quirk Books in 2011, is a dark tale of strange photographs, evil monsters, and peculiar children. This New York Times bestselling novel would fall under the dark fantasy genre.

The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After. *

After a terrible incident occurs in Jacob Portman’s life, he and his father journey to a distant island off the coast of Britain, hoping to set some old photographs and lies straight. What he discovers there is definitely not what he was expecting…

“I thought I could protect you,” he said. “I should’ve told you a long time ago…” *

I would recommend this book for ages 17+. It is a remarkable book with a spine-chilling story, memorable characters, and moving scenes-however, there is some mature content and language to watch out for, as well as some teen romance, violence, and gory details. All in all, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

 

*All excerpts taken from Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published in 2011 by Quirk Book.

Romanov

My blood is my crime. *

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov is the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. Her and her family are being kept in captivity, waiting for their sentence to be passed.

If you look at it, it’s still red. If you touch it, it’s still wet. But if you listen to it, it speaks a single name in a pulsing chant.
Romanov *

Nastya is given a task by her father before they are separated-smuggle an ancient spell past the Bolshevik guards. This spell may be her family’s salvation.

Romanov *

In addition to the dangerous task of keeping a spell hidden from her captors, Nastya has the greater challenge of guarding her feelings, as a handsome young Bolshevik soldier emerges on the scene.

Romanov
For that name alone, bound to my blood like a Bolshevik is bound to the Russian Revolution, I am destined to die. *

The stakes are high. Nastya is on one side of a firing squad, the soldier Zash is on the other side. The spell is itching to be released. And the fate of Russia hangs in the balance.

Because not even royal blood can stop bullets. *

Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson, is a gripping novel with secret romance, hidden spells, and deadly intrigue. This book falls under the historical fantasy genre, and is very loosely based on the true story of the Romanov family.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 15+. There is violence, as well as some intense intrigue and romance. All in all, an excellent read with memorable characters and ancient magic. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*All snippets taken from Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published 2019 by Thomas Nelson.

Renegade Skyfarer

Renegade Skyfarer, written by R.J. Metcalf and published in 2018 by Fayette Press, is a rousing tale of airships, dragons, sky pirates, lost memories, and political power struggles. Book one in the Stones of Terrene Chronicles, this book would fall under the steampunk\fantasy YA genre.

Ben wakes up in the medical bay of the airship The Sapphire with his name as his only memory. The crew members of this ship found him unconscious and bleeding near a dragon’s nest. He has no idea what happened to him, or even if he belongs in this world. But there’s more going in Terrene than just Ben’s mysterious appearance and the regular attacks by dragons. The magical Barrier between southern Terrene and the northern Elphs is weakening, and it’s only a matter of time before it collapses altogether, leaving them vulnerable to the attacks by the vicious enemy. The crew of The Sapphire is determined to find the one thing that can strengthen the barrier, and so far, they’re not having any luck. To make matters worse, political unrest is growing and there are whispers of a new ruler to take the throne. Will Ben stay with his new friends and help in the quest to save Terrene? Will he ever remember who he really is? And will Terrene survive the coming storm?

Welcome aboard The Sapphire.

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. There is some romance and mild thematic elements to watch out for, as well as violence and some intrigue. This book has excellent description, believable dialogue, and well-thought out characters. 3.5 out of 5 stars.