featuring fairy tales and ghosts
The Shadow Girl, Jennifer Archer (325 pages) – For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily’s movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily’s secret. But when Lily’s father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily’s mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris, and Lily’s own identity.
First lines: “Ty Collier shivered as he paused in front of the Daily Grind coffee shop to wipe his boots on the mat beside the door. Cold weather was nothing new to him; he had grown up freezing his butt off every winter in Baltimore. But this morning something besides the frigid air raised goose bumps on his skin.”
Spy for the Queen of Scots, Theresa Breslin (402 pages) – As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette – known as Jenny – is the young queen’s closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors – not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary’s own scheming half-brother, James – Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary. Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril.
First lines: “”They are ready for you, my lady.’ ‘But I am not yet ready for them,’ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, replied abruptly, looking up from her writing desk in a disdainful manner. Then she recovered herself and spoke more kindly to the man standing at the door of her chamber. ‘I need a few extra minutes to prepare. Would you grant me that courtesy?'”
Back to Blackbrick, Sarah Moore Fitgerald (227 pages) – Cosmo’s brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief by working all the hours God sends and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They’ve been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn’t want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in. Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they’re rusty and padlocked as if they haven’t been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family’s future?
First lines: “My granddad was pretty much the cleverest person I ever met so it was strange in the end to see the way people treated him – as if he was a complete moron. We were waiting for a train one day, not bothering anyone, when this boy said to me, ‘Hey. Hey you. What’s wrong with the old man?'”
Elegy, Tara Hudson (386 pages) – A stalker ghost, misguided Seers, and spellbinding wraiths—Amelia Ashley has faced them all. Now, in the third of the Hereafter books, her greatest hope is to spend the rest of her afterlife with her living boyfriend, Joshua. But the demonic forces return to give her an ultimatum: turn herself over to the darkness or watch them murder one living person per week until she does. Amelia fears she might really be doomed, until the forces of light give her another option. She can join them in their quest to gather souls, with a catch: Once she joins them, she can never see Joshua again. Faced with impossible choices, Amelia decides to take her afterlife into her own hands—and fight back.
First lines: “Once again, I’m staring at my own death. My heart is pounding. My breath is coming in short spurts. And I can’t stop digging my fingernails into the heels of my palms, just so I can feel the little crescents of pain they create.”
The New Normal, Ashley Little (222 pages) – Tamar Robinson knows a lot about loss – more than any teenager should. Her younger sisters are dead, her parents are adrift in a sea of grief, and now Tamar is losing her hair. Nevertheless, she navigates her rocky life as best she can, not always with grace, but with her own brand of twisted humor. Life goes on, and regrets are useless. Tamar isn’t the most popular girl at school or the best-looking, but she’s whip-smart, morbidly funny and – most important of all – tenacious.
First lines: “I am losing my hair. I don’t know why. I’m only sixteen. I’m not starving myself. I’m not undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments. But I have been losing shitloads of hair.”
The River Charm, Belinda Murrell (302 pages) – When artistic Millie visits a long-lost aunt, she learns the true story of her family’s tragic past. Could the mysterious ghost girl Millie has painted be her own ancestor? In 1839, Charlotte Atkinson lives at Oldbury, a gracious estate in the Australian bush, with her Mamma and her sisters and brother. But after the death of Charlotte’s father, things start to go terribly wrong. There are murderous convicts and marauding bushrangers. Worst of all, Charlotte’s new stepfather is cruel and unpredictable. Frightened for their lives, the family flees on horseback to a stockman’s hut in the wilderness. Charlotte’s mother and the children must fight to save their property, their independence and their very right to be a family. Will they ever return together to their beautiful home?
First lines: “Millie wasn’t sure if she was asleep or awake, but there seemed to be a strangely shimmering girl standing at the end of her bed. The girl hovered there, in an old-fashioned white dress – high-necked, long-sleeved and flowing to her ankles. Her long, dark hair tumbled around her pale, pale face.”
The Watcher in the Shadows, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (261 pages) – When fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her family to Cape House on the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. There, she meets a local boy named Ishmael, and the two soon fall in love. But a dark mystery is about to unfold, involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.
First line: “Those who remember the night Armand Sauvelle passed away would swear that a purple light flashed across the sky, leaving in its wake a trail of blazing ashes that faded away over the horizon – a light that his daughter, Irene, never saw, but that would haunt her dreams for years to come.”
Nameless : a tale of beauty and madness, Lili St. Crow (328 pages) – When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico. Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.
First lines: “Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine. The Dead Harvest had been dry for once, but Mithrus Eve had brought a cargo of snow, a white Mithrusmas for New Haven after all.”
Still Star-Crossed, Melinda Taub (340 pages) – Romeo and Juliet are gone. Will love live on? Despite the glooming peace that’s settled on Verona after the recent tragedy, Montagues and Capulets are brawling in the streets. Faced with more bloody battles, Prince Escalus concludes that the only way to truly marry the fortunes of these two families is to literally marry them together. Everyone is skeptical, but none more so than the pair selected, for the most eligible Montague bachelor is Benvolio, Romeo’s best friend, still anguished by the loss of his companions, and the chosen Capulet maid is Juliet’s older cousin Rosaline, the girl Romeo first loved and whose refusal of Romeo’s affection paved the way for bloodshed. Contrary to their late cousins, there’s no love lost between Benvolio and Rosaline, yet they forge a bond to end the renewed feud not only to escape their forced betrothal, but to save their lives and the city of Verona itself.
First lines: “In fair Verona’s streets, the sun was hot. Late summer was upon the city, and the sun, oh, it beat. It dazzled off the cobblestones so the beggars groaned and burnt their bare dirty feet. It poured down on the merchants so the sweat trickled down their necks on market day. And the great families – well, they were safe in their cool stone houses, cellars deep enough to hold a bit of chill in, but when they did emerge after sunset, the air was still hot and thick.”