Dark Fantasy

Dandelion Wine

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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.

The Scorpio Races

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”*

It happens every November. The Scorpio Races. Riders bring their water horses to the beach and pray that the ocean doesn’t awaken the violent magic of their steeds and cause them to turn on their masters. One such rider, Sean Kendrick, is at 19 years old the returning champion of the races on his beloved water steed Cor. He has high stakes in the race this year and can’t afford to lose, or what he loves most will be lost forever. Pitted against him is Puck Connolly; a girl who never wanted to race but has to be the first female rider in the history of the races and win or else she may lose her brother. The fates of these two riders are thrown together among the gnashing teeth, crashing waves, and stinging sand of the Scorpio Races; and they will never be the same again.

I would highly recommend The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater and published in 2011 by Scholastic Press, for ages 16+. There are a few minor profanities and off-color jokes to be wary of, as well as some high tension and gory deaths. It’s a wild novel with a rich story line and marvelous character voice; 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*excerpt taken from The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater and published in 2011 by the Scholastic Press

A Monster Calls

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
Conor was awake when it came. *

13-year-old Conor O’Malley is a hurting boy. His mother is sick, really sick. At school, he’s either invisible or a bully target. He doesn’t speak to his best friend anymore. And he’s having nightmares. Terrible nightmares. Nightmares that he will never, ever tell anyone else about.
And then there’s the monster.

I have come to get you, Conor O’Malley, the monster said…
A monster, Conor thought. A real, honest-to-goodness monster. In real, waking life. Not in a dream, but here, at his window.
Come to get him.
But Conor didn’t run. *

This monster is not like the others. It’s ancient. It’s fierce. And it will learn the truth from Conor. Even if the lost boy is determined that no one ever will learn the secret.
The monster will keep on calling.

In fact, he found he wasn’t even frightened.
All he could feel, all he had felt since the monster revealed itself, was a growing disappointment.
Because this wasn’t the monster he was expected. *

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. There are some mature thematic elements, as well as some mild language and dark themes. A Monster Calls-written by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay, and published in America, 2006 by Hilary Mantel-is a phenomenal, deeply moving tale of loss and healing. This compelling novel would fall under the dark fantasy, inspiring, and contemporary genres. 4 out of 5 stars.

“So come and get me then,” he said. *

*All excerpts taken from A Monster Calls, written by Patrick Ness and published in America, 2006 by Hilary Mantel.

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.

The Rithamist

“Lilly set the tip of the chalk against the ground and began to draw a circle around herself. Her hand shook so much that the line was unveven. Professor Fitch would have been quite displeased to see such a sloppy Line of Warding.
Scratching.
Lilly snapped her head up, looking down the hallway at the door leading to the street. A shadow moved beyond the door’s clouded window plate.
The door rattled.
“Oh, Master,” she found herself whispering. “Please . . . please . . . ”
The door burst open. A figure stood framed in moonlight, a bowler on his head, a short cape covering his shoulders and coming down to his waist.
The things flooded into the room around him. Angry, squirming over floor, walls, ceiling. Their bone-white bodies almost seeming to glow in the moonlight.
Each was as flat as a piece of paper.
Each was made of chalk.
And each was terrible.
Lilly screamed.”

*

The Rithamist, written by Brandon Sanderson was published in 2013 by Dragonsteel Entertainment, and falls under the genres of Fantasy, Gearpunk, and Alternate History.
16-year-old Joel is an ordinary student with an interest in extraordinary subjects. Rithamitics is not a subject generally studied by non-Rithamists. The Rithamists are a group of people with mysterious powers; powers that can command drawings made of chalk. Circles, lines, squares, and little creatures called chalklings are studied by the Rithamist students who will be using their knowledge to defend the American Isles from the evil chalklings that flourish on the dark isle of Nebrask. But Joel can only watch the Rithamists from afar; as he missed his chance to become one years before. His only comfort is learning as much as he can from books, until he gets the chance to study under an old friend.
Melody is a Rithamist student on the verge of failing her classes. She gets assigned to relearn her lessons under Professor Fitch; a disgraced Rithamist teacher assigned to discovering the truth behind a recent kidnapping. The kidnapped victim was a former student of Professor Fitch’s; and there was evidence to suggest that chalklings had been the cause of her disappearance. But chalklings are not that reliable; and they must have been controlled by a master of the Rithamic arts. Unless they were wild chalkings escaped from Nebrask; which if that is the case, then all of the American Isles are in danger. And there is no escape from a wild chalking.
Melody, Joel, and Professor Fitch must use all their wits and skills against an unknown foe. They must solve the mystery of the scribbles before its too late.
But it might already be too late.
The Rithamist was a highly enjoyable, exciting read. It’s written very well, and although it doesn’t have non-stop action like most of Sanderson’s other works, there are no dull spots in it. The building of intrigue and character development keeps you wanting to read just one more chapter. This book was at medium reading difficulty.
I would recommend this book for ages 14+. It was morbid at times, and a little gory; but a fun story with amusing characters and dialogue, and a brilliant story world. 4 out of 5 stars.