This week, a feudal, Eastern dystopian fantasy adventure, flying shapeshifters, and Russian spies who are after potions during the Cold War.
Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (The Lotus War number 1). “Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task. But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected. Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she’s determined to do something about it. Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?” (goodreads.com)
The Girl With Borrowed Wings, Rinsai Rossetti. “A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be – if only she has the courage to take it. Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy – a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.” (goodreads.com)
The Apothecary, Maile Meloy. “It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows – a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies – Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.” (goodreads.com). This book also has illustrations by Ian Schoenherr, who drew the bridges and maps in Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (they are cool bridges and maps).