We’ve got a lot books about witches – usually not about the terrible things that green skinned old ladies do when they cackle over cauldrons (although I’m not excluding them) – but about accusations of witchcraft, noble witches and many more besides.
Witch child, Celia Rees
This is not only one of my favourite books about witches, it’s one of my favourite novels full stop. Mary Newbury is a young woman who sees her grandmother executed for witchcraft; seeking safety, she flees to America with the first wave of Puritans. Unfortunately, she finds that suspicion and superstition are as rife in the New World as they were back home. It’s told in diary format. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it to you to read the book: it’s beautifully written, tense and intelligent. It has a raft of awards, but surely a librarian’s recommendation is all the convincing you need.
The raging quiet, Sherryl Jordan
A book from a New Zealand author – and a fantastic one at that. Marnie is married off to support her family; unfortunately her husband’s death, a vicious community and her friendship with a man believed to be the local “idiot” result in an accusation of witchcraft. Again, a tense and intelligent novel about the dangers of superstition and fear – but also a tender and unsentimental novel about finding love and happiness in a climate of fear.
Sea hearts, Margo Lanagan
I’ve long been a fan of Margo Lanagan – her short story collections Black Juice, Yellowcakes and Red Spikes are probably some of the best we have in the library. So I was pretty excited to find out that she also writes novels. Tender Morsels is amazing, but I’d suggest that Sea Hearts is the one you really want to pick up – well, if you’re looking for books on witches, anyway. Misskaella is a witch (a real one) who has the power to make women from the seals that surround their remote island. Based on the selkie myth, this is a powerful novel about love, magic and consequences.
Tripswitch, Gaelyn Gordon
Three orphaned cousins go to live with their sinister aunt and then discover that things (of course) are definitely not as they seem. It’s nice to find a book about a witch in a more modern context – but the fear and horror generated by Aunt Lureene doesn’t lose anything by being removed from a historical setting. I’m always excited to find books by New Zealand authors. Gaelyn Gordon was an excellent writer (she sadly passed away in 1998) and her books deserve to be better known among the new generations of readers.
Akata witch, Nnedi Okorafor
Another modern witch story! Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist – so I was pretty excited to find this book in our collection! I hadn’t read it before this post, and I’m cursing (hah) myself now: it’s not only a great book that focusses on Nigerian witchcraft. It’s a breath of fresh air, and the heroine, Sunny, is fantastic. She not only has to deal with her burgeoning powers but the difficulties that come with Albinism in Nigeria. This book has won one award and been selected for two more, for good reason. If you only read one book on this list, make it this one.
Baba Yaga’s assistant, Marika McCoola ; illustrated by Emily Carroll.
Baba Yaga’s my favourite witch and Emily Carroll’s my favourite comic book artist so this graphic novel appearing in the new books section was a great surprise. Baba Yaga’s house on chicken feet is pretty iconic but not many people can name a fairy tale with her in it. And this is another modern story about witches! Masha must undergo a series of tests to make sure she survives the witch and her sinister house.Luckily she’s heard a lot of the stories before, which helps her in her battle with the witch. But Baba Yaga has other plans for Masha, too…
Think wit, intrigue, high society, alternative-England, Regency period (or about then), and of course magic, and you have the three following books!
Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The enchanted chocolate pot : being the correspondence of two young ladies of quality regarding various magical scandals in London and the country / Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
“A great deal is happening in London this season. For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at Sir Hilary’s induction into the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one’s dress?!) Then there’s Dorothea. Is it a spell that’s made her the toast of the town–or could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver’s bed? And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him? Ever since he was turned into a tree, he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is! The girls might think it all a magical nightmare . . . if only they weren’t having so much fun.” (Syndetics summary)
A breath of frost / Alyxandra Harvey.
“Meet Emma Day and her two cousins, Gretchen and Penelope, are uninterested in their debutante lives. All the boring balls, tiresome curtsying and polite conversation leave much to be desired. Then a girl is found dead, frost clinging to her lifeless body, and the murder is traced to Emma. As their world is turned upside down, Emma discovers more about herself and her cousins, from her connection to the murders to the secrets of her family legacy. Now the girls must embrace their true Lovegrove inheritance in order to stop the chaos, even if that means risking their lives. Dangerously handsome Cormac Fairfax wants to help Emma – but, with secrets of his own to hide, can she trust him?The first book in a deliciously dark new trilogy. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Ruth Warburton.” (Syndetics summary)
A college of magics / Caroline Stevermer
“Teenager Faris Nallaneen is the heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon. Too young still to claim her title, her despotic Uncle Brinker has ruled in her place. Now he demands she be sent to Greenlaw College. For her benefit he insists. “To keep me out of the way, more like it ” But Greenlaw is not just any school-as Faris and her new best friend Jane discover. At Greenlaw students major in . . . magic. But it’s not all fun and games. When Faris makes an enemy of classmate Menary of Aravill, life could get downright . . . deadly.” (Syndetics summary)
This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman (December). This is a companion novel to These Broken Stars (in which Lilac and Tarver are stranded alone on a planet after a catastrophic spaceship crash (Lilac, unfortunately, in a very impractical green dress)). In This Shattered World, we are introduced to new characters, Flynn and Lee, who are on opposing sides in a war on Avon, a terraformed planet: “Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.” (goodreads.com) Post-exam reading.
The Iron Trial, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in a new series (Magisterium) from extremely popular YA writing friends. The Magisterium is an academy for students with a gift for magic. “In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.” (goodreads.com) Will it be as Harry Potter-ish as it seems, we want to know.
Atlantia, Ally Condie (November). From the author of the popular Matched trilogy. “For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above – of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self – and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden – she has nothing left to lose. Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths” (goodreads.com).
Ghost House, Alexandra Adornetto. “After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger… Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her. To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own” (goodreads.com)
means “magical girl” in Japanese. It’s a whole subgenre of anime focused on the magical abilities of special young women. Here are some books about awesome witchy magical girls:
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
“Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?” (Goodreads)
Witch & Wizard, James Patterson
“Imagine you wake up and the world around you-life as you know it-has changed in an instant. That’s what has happened to Whit Allgood and his sister, Whisty. They went to sleep as normal teenagers, and woke up as wanted criminals. Accused of holding incredible powers they’d never dreamed possible. And now, just how different they are-special, even-if just beginning to be revealed in a strange new world.” (Goodreads)
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
16-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until she has a dark vision of her mother’s death which turns out to be true. Gemma is shipped of to Spence, a girls’ academy in Victorian England. There she is snubbed by her classmates until she blackmails herself into the popular clique. Gemma is distressed to find she has been followed from India by Kartik, a man who urges her to fight off her visions. But her visions are relentless and they lead her to find a long-lost magical diary. Gemma discovers she has the power to connect with other worlds, and her new friends want to come along for a bit of fun. What none of them realise is that the other worlds are influenced by a powerful menace they cannot control. This is the first in a trilogy and it is brilliant!
Princess Ben, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
“With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts:mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle’s pantries, setting her hair on fire… But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from tyranny?” (Goodreads)
In 2011, DC comics announced a massive overhaul of its superhero titles. All existing titles were cancelled, and 52 new titles were announced This was a controversial move, for many reasons, which you can read about on the wikipedia page. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take you through the continuity changes of both the Marvel and DC universes this year, but to start out, I’ll be discussing a few standalone titles that don’t require you to have extensive knowledge of the Marvel or the DC universes to enjoy. First up: The Demon Knights series, which was started by Paul Cornell. There are three volumes in the series; sadly it was cancelled in 2013. Smaller titles like this one often have a hard time reaching the sales numbers of the “classics” like Batman and Superman. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth picking up!
The heart of the “Demon Knights” is the character of Jason Blood AND the demon Etrigan. Two separate men, bound together by the great wizard Merlin to contain the latter’s infernal power. They, along with six other characters, ranging from an Amazonian fighter to a barbarian to a Knight of Camelot, are called together to protect a small village that stands in the way of an evil horde’s path.
What I like about this title is that the “heroes” all have to face the consequences of their actions; the damage they do to the people of this new land is not brushed aside. They often struggle against the differences between their “home” worlds and the new land in which they find themselves, as well as cultural differences between them. These are not the shining, pure heroes of much of the DC universe; the characters have done truly evil things and the question of redemption hangs over their heads. Are they better than those they are fighting? There are no easy answers. Definitely worth picking up if you see it in our graphic novel collection. It’s in DC under “other”.
that are full of magic:
Brightly Woven, Alexandra Bracken (354 pages) – The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
First lines: “The day the rains came was like any other, with blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness. By late afternoon, the only thing more suffocating than the air was the dust kicked up by our feet. We were as quiet as the dead, moving from rock to crevice, always watching the path for movement.”
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch (416 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
First lines: “Raim sat in the crook of an old, cracked tree, one leg dangling in the breeze, his head leaning back against the trunk. Long, needle-like leaves shaded him from the oppressive heat and hid him from the view of his grandfather, in case he was looking to assign Raim yet another chore. He just wanted a moment to himself.”
Shadows, Robin McKinley (368 pages) – Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago. Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know … until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage. In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.
First lines: “The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather. It’s usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for stepfathers.”
The Apprentices, Maile Meloy (432 pages) – Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she’s in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.
First lines: “The space between the stone library of Grayson Academy and the red brick science building created a ferocious wind tunnel, in any decent wind. Janie Scott ducked her head and leaned forward into the blast, on her way to dinner with her roommate’s parents in the town of Grayson, across the street from the school. It was November of 1954, and a cold autumn in New Hampshire.”
Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (432 pages) – There’s a dead girl in a birdcage in the woods. That’s not unusual. Isola Wilde sees a lot of things other people don’t. But when the girl appears at Isola’s window, her every word a threat, Isola needs help. Her real-life friends – Grape, James and new boy Edgar – make her forget for a while. And her brother-princes – the mermaids, faeries and magical creatures seemingly lifted from the pages of the French fairytales Isola idolises – will protect her with all the fierce love they possess. It may not be enough. Isola needs to uncover the truth behind the dead girl’s demise and appease her enraged spirit, before the ghost steals Isola’s last breath.
First lines: “Once upon a time, Isola Wilde was watching late-night television with her eldest brother, Alejandro, when Channel 12 broadcast a live suicide. The teenage boy in his leather jacket had hair the colour of desert dust and freckles like actual spots of desert dust. The news camera zoomed, and he blurred then sharpened, a drunken vision.”
Battle Magic, Tamora Pierce (440 pages) – Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens. During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and teh devasting magic that keeps his power in place. It’s not till they leave that they discover he’s about to launch a major invasion of Gyongxe. The mountain land is home to many temples… including the First Temple of the Living Circle, which Rosethorn has vowed to defend. With time running out, the mages race to warn their Gyongxin friends of the emperor’s plans.
First lines: “Two boy-men sat on the river’s eastern bank, where an open-fronted tent gave them shelter from the chilly spring wind. It whistled down the canyon, making the banners around them snap.”
Some Quiet Place, Kelsey Sutton (331 pages) – Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions … she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself. Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?
First lines: “Fear is coming. As the day ends and I milk the cows, I wait for another meeting with my old friend. He comes swiftly, speeding over the plains as only one of his kind can do. Every second that he draws nearer, the cows become more agitated, eyes rolling, hooves stomping the floor. I know his only purpose for making the journey to Wisconsin is to taunt me again.”
The Burning Sky, Sherry Thomas (464 pages) – Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death. Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal. But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life
First lines: “Fire was easy. In fact, there was nothing easier. They said that when an elemental mage called forth flame, she stole a little from every fire in the world. That would make Iolanthe Seabourne quite the thief, gathering millions of sparks into one great combustion. That flame she sculpted into a perfect sphere ten feet across, suspended above the rushing currents of the River Woe.”
Chasing the Valley, Skye Melki-Wegner (416 pages) – Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope. Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls. Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia. Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.
First lines: “It’s a quiet night when the bombs fall. Just before they start, I’m scrubbing dishes in some grungy bar. The Alehouse, it’s called. Stupid way to mark the night your life changes, isn’t it?”
the one word titles edition:
Surfacing, Nora Raleigh Baskin (192 pages) – Though only a sophomore, Maggie Paris is a star on the varsity swim team, but she also has an uncanny, almost magical ability to draw out people’s deepest truths, even when they don’t intend to share them. It’s reached a point where most of her classmates, all but her steadfast best friend, now avoid her, and she’s taken to giving herself away every chance she gets to an unavailable — and ungrateful — popular boy from the wrestling team, just to prove she still exists. Even Maggie’s parents, who are busy avoiding each other and the secret deep at the heart of their devastated family, seem wary of her. Is there such a thing as too much truth?
First lines: “The most peaceful memory I have is of when I drown. And if I close my eyes, I can still see the sunlight, cut into white bands, broken at the water’s surface.”
Reach, Hugh Brown (256 pages) – Will Clark thinks he’s a socially inept bookworm who just happens to enjoy cross-country running and taekwondo. But then his mother returns after a five-year absence overseas, and he has his first full-contact taekwondo fight, and the gorgeous comic-reading Conway Jones asks if she can be his maths tutor … Will must reassess himself, and his past, as he reaches towards a new future and lets his dreams take flight.
First lines: “‘You want a hand?’ Will called. Lloyd Clark, wiry and tireless, was digging in his huge vegetable garden, his white singlet patched with sweat.”
Towering, Alex Flinn (293 pages) – Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again. Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.
First lines: “I had not been outside in years. I wasn’t sure how many, exactly, because I didn’t keep track from the beginning. I didn’t realize I’d need to.”
Scowler, Daniel Kraus (288 pages) – Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister scrape by for a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.
First lines: “A tooth was missing and that was never a pleasant thing. It was going on thirty minutes that Ry and Sarah had been after it.”
Charmfall, Chloe Neill (242 pages) – High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death. When a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone! And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines.
First lines: “His fur was silvery gray. His eyes shifted color between sky blue and spring green, and his ears were flat against his head. I’d tripped and fallen, which put me at eye level with the giant werewolf in front of me.”
Run, Tim Sinclair (235 pages) – Dee lives for parkour and the alternative worlds he invents to escape his mundane life. He knows the city better than anyone – the hidden spaces at night, the views that no one else sees, from heights that no one else can scale. With parkour, he’s not running away. He’s free. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Soon, Dee is running for his life, running for real.
First lines: “I walk. One foot and then the next, just like everyday people. Feet on the ground just like everyday people.”
Trinkets, Kirsten Smith (275 pages) – Sixteen-year-old Moe’s Shoplifters Anonymous meetings are usually punctuated by the snores of an old man and the whining of the world’s unhappiest housewife. Until the day that Tabitha Foster and Elodie Shaw walk in. Tabitha has just about everything she wants: money, friends, popularity, a hot boyfriend who worships her…and clearly a yen for stealing. So does Elodie, who, despite her goodie-two-shoes attitude pretty much has “klepto” written across her forehead in indelible marker. But both of them are nothing compared to Moe, a bad girl with an even worse reputation. Tabitha challenges the three to a steal-off and so begins a strange alliance linked by the thrill of stealing and the reasons that spawn it.
First lines: “The people who say Portland is a place where hipster thirtysomethings go to retire clearly have never been to Lake Oswego”
the edition of book titles beginning with ‘the…’
The goddess inheritance, Aimée Carter (294 pages) – During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her – until Cronus offers a deal. In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead. With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything. Even if it costs her eternity.
First lines: “Throughout his eternal life, Walter had witnessed countless summers, but never one as endless as this. He sat behind his glass desk, his head bowed as he read the petition before him, signed by nearly all of the minor gods and goddesses scattered throughout the world.”
The girl with the iron touch, Kady Cross (377 pages) – the third installment in the Steampunk Chronicles finds mechanical genius Emily being kidnapped by rogue automatons! Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives. To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has.
First lines: “A giant tentacle slapped the front of the submersible, driving the small craft backward in the water. A crack no wider than a hair split across the view screen as suckers the size of dinner plates pulled free.”
The circle, Sara B. Elfgren & Mats Strandberg (596 pages) – On a night after the apparent suicide of high school student Elias Malmgren, a blood-red moon fills the night sky. The same night, six of his classmates are drawn by an invisible force to an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of town. As the weeks pass, each of them discover they now possess a unique magical power. They are the Chosen Ones. In this gripping first installment of The Engelsfors Trilogy, a parallel world emerges in which teenage dreams, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, and love collide with dangerous forces and ancient magic. This book was originally published in Swedish which is why the names may seem unusual.
First lines: “She’s waiting for an answer but Elias doesn’t know what to say. No answer would satisfy you. Instead he stares at his hands. They are so pale that he can see every vein in the harsh fluorescent lighting.”
The book of broken hearts, Sarah Ockler (357 pages) – Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one. But home all summer without her sisters and with an adorably cute Vargas boy, Jude finds herself wondering if, when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking. Or will history simply repeat itself?
First lines: “The law of probability dictates that with three older sisters, a girl shall inherit at least one pair of cute shorts that actually fit. Agreed?”
The double-edged sword, Sarah Silverwood (333 pages) – Finmere Tingewick Smith was abandoned on the steps of the Old Bailey. Under the guardianship of the austere Judge Harlequin Brown and the elderly gentlemen of Orrery House, Fin has grown up under a very strange set of rules. He spends alternate years at two very different schools and now he’s tired of the constant lies to even his best friends, to hide the insanity of his double life. But on his sixteenth birthday, everything changes. The Judge is killed, stabbed in the chest with a double-edged sword that’s disturbingly familiar, and from that moment on, Fin is catapulted into an extraordinary adventure.
First lines: “Finmere Tingewick Smith sat on the second step of the Old Bailey in the exact spot where he’d been abandoned in a small cardboard box sixteen years earlier. He sniffed, the icy November chill making his nose run.”
The night of the solstice, L. J. Smith (326 pages) – by the same author of The vampire diaries and Night world comes this gripping new magical adventure about four siblings who join forces with a talking vixen to rescue the vixen’s mistress, the sorceress Morgana Shee. For years Morgana guarded the solitary gate between Earth and the Wildworld, a shimmering parallel universe where legends still live. She alone holds the secret of the mirrors that serve as the last passage to enchantment. Armed only with courage and determination, the siblings and the vixen must save Morgana and stop the evil sorcerer Cadal Forge before he can pass through a gate to Earth during the winter solstice.
First lines: “The vixen was waiting. Dapples sunlight fell around her onto the soft dirt beneath the orange trees, gilding her russet fur and striking an occasional brief gleam from her yellow eyes.”
The program, Suzanne Young (405 pages) – Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone — but so are their memories.
First lines: “The air in the room tastes sterile. The lingering scent of bleach is mixing with the fresh white paint on the walls, and I wish my teacher would open the window to let in a breeze. But we’re on the third floor so the pane is sealed shut – just in case anyone gets the urge to jump.”
Fat Angie, e. E. Charlton-Trujillo (263 pages) – Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of “crazy mad cow!”) away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids — she’s back at high school just trying to make it through each day. That is, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. But can the daring new girl really change anything?
First lines: “This was the beginning. Angie bit the end of her thumbnail awaiting the result. She had – unwittingly – found a rival.”
Revenge of the girl with the great personality, Elizabeth Eulberg (261 pages) – Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup). Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them, of being ignored by her longtime crush, of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom and she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it.
First line: “Applying butt glue to my sister’s backside is, without question, not the first way I’d choose to spend a weekend.”
Inheritance, Lisa Forrest (376 pages) – Tallulah has always know she was different. She can communicate without speaking, a secret she shares only with her childhood nanny, Irena, who warns Tallulah that gifts like hers are not always welcome. When Tallulah begins training at the prestigious Cirque d’Avenir school, it soon becomes clear the troupe is not all that it seems. As Tallulah is drawn deeper into a world of dark, ancient powers and centuries-old greed, she must call on the skills Irena taught her – and on the protection of the mysterious cuff Irena gave her for safekeeping.
First line: “Tallulah Thomson could feel an insistent press on her shoulder but she was too exhausted to move; the muggy warmth that hovered on the edge of her consciousness promised no relief from the battle she’d been caught up in.”
Diva, Jillian Larkin, (280 pages) – This is the third in the Flappers series which finds the girls spending the last glorious days of summer sunbathing with socialites at Forrest Hamilton’s swanky villa. But Gloria Carmody is hiding an oh-so-scandalous secret while Clara Knowles is left heartbroken and depressed after Marcus leaves her for another girl. Lorraine Dyer thinks it will be a loveless marriage however and decides to save Marcus from it.
First lines: “All his life, Jerome had dreamed of crowds screaming his name. But this wasn’t what he’d had in mind.”
Nobody’s secret, Michaela MacColl (240 pages) – It’s 1846, and for fifteen-year-old Emily Dickenson, every day follows the same pattern: chores, chores, and more chores. A flirtation with mysterious, handsome young man therefore is a welcome distraction. Even if he playfully won’t tell her his name. That is, until he turns up dead in her family’s pond. Stricken with guilt, Emily sets out to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he’s condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger.
First lines: “Emily lay perfectly still, hidden in the tall grass, her eyes closed tight. A chain of wildflowers lay wilted around her neck. But no matter how quiet she was, the bee would not land on her nose.”
The lost girl, Sangu Mandanna (390 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Eva is the ultimate insurance policy: she’s an echo, created by the “Weavers” to be an exact replica of her original, an Indian girl named Amarra. Eva’s entire life has been dedicated to studying Amarra’s life; should Amarra die, Eva will replace her, with only Amarra’s family the wiser. Shortly after Eva and Amarra turn 16, Eva is ripped from everything and everyone she holds dear to move from England to India, where echoes are illegal (meaning her death if she is found out), to fulfill her purpose.
First lines: “I remember being in town with Mina Ma. I must have been about ten. She wanted to buy a lottery ticket and I stood outside the newsagent’s and looked in the window of the toyshop next door.”
The originals, Cat Patrick (293 pages) – Lizzie is a clone, one of three 16-year-old “sisters,” raised under the strict supervision of their scientist mother. Everyone outside the house thinks Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey are the same person, Elizabeth Best, since their mother has the girls living in shifts but the girls are growing increasingly resistant to this arrangement, especially after Lizzie and Ella fall for two different boys at school. While the cloning isn’t really explored, it serves as a tool to explore themes of identity, sisterhood, and family.
First lines: “My part is first half. I go to student government, chemistry, trigonometry, psychology, and history at school, then do the rest of the day at home.”
This is what happy looks like, Jennifer E. Smith (404 pages) – Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, Wilbur. The two 17-year-olds strike up an e-mail relationship from opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names. What’s more, Ellie doesn’t know Graham is a famous actor, and Graham doesn’t know about the big secret in Ellie’s family tree. When the relationship goes from online to in-person, they find out whether their relationship can be the real thing.
First lines: “Hey, we’re running pretty behind here. Any chance you could walk Wilbur for me tonight?”
Mind Games, Kiersten White (241 pages) – from the same author who brought you the Paranormalcy trilogy comes a new novel about two sisters, bound by impossible choices but who are determined to protect each other no matter the cost. Seventeen-year-old Fia and her sister, Annie, are trapped in a school that uses young female psychics and mind readers as tools for corporate espionage – and if Fia doesn’t play by the rules of their deadly game, Annie will be killed.
First lines: “My dress is black and itchy and I hate it. I want to peel it off and I want to kick Aunt Ellen for making me wear it.”
The Lucy variations, Sara Zarr (304 pages) – Sixteen-year-old San Franciscan Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Her chance at a career has passed, and she decides to help her ten-year-old piano prodigy brother, Gus, map out his own future, even as she explores why she enjoyed piano in the first place.
First lines: “Try harder, Lucy. Lucy stared down at Madame Temnikova’s face. Which seemed incredibly gray. Try. Harder. Lucy.”
The magical edition:
Rise of the fallen, Teagan Chilcott (202 pages) – Appearing as students at a local Brisbane high school, Emilie and Cael are centuries-old elementals on the run. Their inseparable bond starts to fray when Soul, an irresistible demon, comes on the scene and Emilie follows him into the savage world where she and Cael were once kept captive.
First lines: “There was nothing but silence as I lay back on the soft, green grass of the oval. It was a clear day; the clouds that usually speckled the bright sky were missing.”
Invisibility, Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (358 pages) – Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse.
First lines: “I was born invisible. I have no idea how this worked. Did my mother go to a hospital, expecting me to be just another normal, visible baby?”
Spellcaster, Claudia Gray (389 pages) – Descended from witches, high school senior Nadia can tell as soon as her family moves to Captive’s Sound that the town is under a dark and powerful spell. A sickness is infecting everyone and everything in the town, especially Mateo, the teenage local whose cursed dreams predict the future. Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his curse, and to prevent a coming disaster that threatens the entire town.
First lines: “Before anything else, Nadia felt the chill. She wasn’t sure why. Her father already had the car’s heat on because of the awful weather.”
Pantomime, Laura Lam (390 pages) – R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. Gene, the daughter of a noble family, runs away from the decadence of court to this circus of magic, where she meets runaway Micah, a runaway who has quickly become the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
First lines: “”Well, boy,” the ringmaster said. “What can you do?” I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt.”
Scarlet in the snow, Sophie Masson (318 pages) – When Natasha is forced to take shelter from a sudden, terrible blizzard, she is lucky to see a mansion looming out of the snow. Inside, it is beautiful despite the empty frames instead of paintings that hang on the walls. In the garden, she finds one perfect red rose about to bloom, a vivid splash of scarlet against the snow. Dreamily she reaches out a hand, only to have a terrifying, gigantic creature who looks like a cross between a bear and a man and demand vengeance on her for taking his rose. Sound familiar? There’s plenty of twists and intrigue to make this fairy tale fresh. Natasha will have a long journey, and many ordeals, ahead of her before there can be a happy ending.
First lines: “‘Ah, there you are! I might have known I’d find you up here, scribbling like some old clerk. Look at you – you’ve got ink all over your fingers! No, stop, don’t do that, Natasha, you’ll get it on your nose too!’”
Fathomless, Jackson Pearce (291 pages) – Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant until Celia meets Lo who is fighting to remember her past. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea – a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid – all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. There’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her … and steal his soul.
First lines: “There are lights at the surface. Lights so unlike the sun, that can’t reach down into the depths of the ocean. Lights we can see only when we look outside the water.”
Between the lives, Jessica Shirvington (330 pages) – For as long as she can remember, every 24 hours Sabine ‘shifts’, living each day twice. She has one life in Wellesley, Massachusetts (where she is rich, popular and has the charmed future) and a completely different life in Roxbury, Boston (where she is poor, a delinquent and with a hopeless future). All Sabine has ever wanted is the chance to live one life. When it seems this might finally be possible, Sabine begins a series of dangerous experiments to achieve her goal. But is she willing to risk everything to get it?
First lines: “I am a liar. Not compulsive. Simply required. I am two people. Neither better than the other, no superpowers, no mystical destinies, no two-places-in-one-time mechanism – but two people.”
A necklace of souls, R L Stedman (366 pages) – In a hidden kingdom a mysterious Guardian protects Dana’s people with the help of a magical necklace. But evil forces are also seeking the power of the necklace, and as the Guardian grows weaker these forces threaten to destroy the kingdom. With the help of her best friend, Will, and the enigmatic N’tombe, Dana, the rightful heir, must claim the power of the necklace and save her people. But the necklace takes a terrible toll on whoever wears it – a toll that Dana may not be prepared to face.
First lines: “A true dream is when the events I see in my sleep have, or will happen. It’s a talent that runs in my family. I was thirteen when I had my first true dream. This was my dream.”