Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Dutton: Sunderworld, Vol. I: The Extraordinary Disappointments of Leopold Berry by Ransom Riggs

From My Shelf

Gone Witching

It's officially spooky season, and I, for one, am excited to celebrate the array of witchy books available. For nonfiction history buffs, look no further than Stacy Schiff's The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem (Back Bay Books, $19.99), which offers a comprehensive account of the Salem Witch Trials, starting with the convulsions of one young woman and resulting in the execution of more than a dozen men and women.

Alice Hoffman's Magic Lessons (Simon & Schuster, $17) also transports readers back to 17th-century Salem, offering an expanded history of the Owens family that stars in her popular novel Practical Magic (Berkley, $17) and its more modern-day prequel, The Rules of Magic (Simon & Schuster, $16.99).

Nearby Lowell, Mass., provides the setting for C.S. Malerich's The Factory Witches of Lowell (Tordotcom, $14.99), which imbues women on strike in the small mill town with a bit of strength in witchcraft. Danvers, Mass.--where the accusations originated that kicked off the Salem Witch Trials--also serves as the setting for Quan Barry's excellent We Ride Upon Sticks (Vintage, $16.95), as the 1989 Danvers High School field hockey team taps into darker powers to secure a state championship.

That's not to say New England has the corner on witch trial histories: Rivka Galchen draws on historical accounts from Württemberg, Germany, in Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27), which our reviewer called "a vibrant, provocative story" with a "decidedly modern tone."

Never one to miss a good contemporary romance (or a punny title), I gobbled up Lana Harper's Payback's a Witch (Berkley, $16), a queer revenge-gone-magic tale of a handful of witches out to take down the magical bro who's hurt them each in turn. Here's to the magic of the season! --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Qian Julie Wang

photo: Ryan Muir

Qian Julie Wang was born in Shijiazhuang, China. At age seven, she moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., with her parents. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Yale Law School. Formerly a commercial litigator, Wang is now managing partner of Gottlieb & Wang, a firm dedicated to advocating for education and civil rights. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two rescue dogs. Her memoir, Beautiful Country (Doubleday, September 7, 2021), follows the years of her undocumented childhood in New York City.

On your nightstand now:

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead, Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. I used to only read fiction, and I am now trying to read more broadly across genres while also returning to backlist titles that I missed when they were first released. Further, I am just thrilled to see my fellow BIPOC authors starting to receive much-deserved attention and recognition in the publishing industry.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It's so difficult to narrow it down to just one, so I have to cheat here and say: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien and the entire Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. I was very into animals--animals and getting a taste of what it was like to be a normal American kid.

Your top five authors:

Again, it's so hard to narrow it down to just five! But this time I'll play by the rules and say Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, George Eliot, Kazuo Ishiguro and Edith Wharton.

Book you've faked reading:

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. In college, I juggled four to five part-time jobs every semester, and one of those jobs was being a teaching assistant for an English professor. He required his TAs to read all the books on the syllabus (which made sense), but unfortunately I was working 30+ hours a week while juggling a full honors course load, so I may have skipped a book (or two!) here and there. This was one of them. I have nothing against the book, and have been hoping to read it for years, but I just have not gotten around to it yet.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. As I elaborate further below, reading this book changed my life. For AAPI women in particular, it offers rare validation for so many experiences that we've been forced to accept as normal. And for those who are not AAPI, it will give you keen insight into what it might be like to live in our skin.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I've probably purchased just about every reprint of Jane Austen's books because I love collectible sets. My current favorites are probably the colorful Penguin clothbound ones!

Book you hid from your parents:

My own! My parents are supportive of my dreams but they remain terrified that ICE will still come after us, even though we are all on documented status now. It is also very difficult for them to think about those years. In hopes of alleviating their fears, I'm not allowing them to read the whole book until its release--my thinking is that that way, though the fear will still be there, they will be less likely to count down in doom to the day our immigration history becomes public.

Book that changed your life:

I was forever changed by reading Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong during the pandemic and the onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes. For most of my life, I told myself that I was just oversensitive, that I read too much into things--even though "chink" was among the first English words I learned, even though I had never been in a public space in America without fearing for my bodily safety. When I read Minor Feelings, I was shocked to find another Asian American woman, living across the country and years older than me, who had precise insight into all of the things that I thought I was "oversensitive" about. Hong's book awakened and galvanized me. I read and re-read it while editing my book, and it opened my eyes to all of the ways in which growing up under white supremacy shaped how I viewed myself, and how I invalidated the extremely valid feelings that decades of living with racialized misogyny engendered in me. Minor Feelings gave me the permission I didn't know I needed, and it helped me dig up more of my voice, my compassion--not just for myself but also for so many others who do not yet have everything I am now fortunate enough to possess. 

Favorite line from a book:

"..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." --George Eliot, Middlemarch

I have recited this quote to myself since discovering Middlemarch in high school, a reminder that as nice as it might be to be widely recognized for a grand deed, it is the undocumented, everyday kindnesses that contribute to the central good of the world. It has become even more of a daily mantra for me in my adult life. I've been lucky to have lived at just about every socioeconomic level; the message keeps me rooted to the belief that I have a responsibility to live up to my privilege and give back to everyone around me--in large and small ways.

Five books you'll never part with:

Middlemarch by George Eliot; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I'm a real sucker for coming-of-age stories!

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Charlotte's Web was my foundation for the concept of friendship, kindness and faith. The book shaped me indelibly even though I'm sure that there were many elements that I was too young to comprehend in my first reading. I often wonder if anything would change, or if I would catch new sparks, if I were able to go back to the third grade and read it for the first time anew.

Book Candy

How to Make Comics

"How to make comics: A four-part series from the Museum of Modern Art." (via Open Culture)


Author and critic Michael Billington chose his top 10 books about theatre for the Guardian.


Mental Floss investigated "Kurt Vonnegut's strange connection to the Cape Cod cannibal."


The New York Public Library recommended "spooky middle grade reads to usher in Fall."


Designer Mark Newsom's Quobus bookcase is a modular display unit of enameled steel cubes. (via Bookshelf)

Great Reads

Rediscover: Abdulrazak Gurnah

Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, who lives in England, won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature last week. The Swedish Academy cited Gurnah for "his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents." Gurnah was born on the island of Zanzibar in 1948, which after independence from Britain in 1963 underwent a revolution and unification with Tanganyika to become Tanzania. During the revolution, citizens of Arab origin were persecuted, and Gurnah fled to Britain. Until his recent retirement, Gurnah was Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in Canterbury, focusing on writers such as Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Salman Rushdie.

Gurnah is the author of 10 novels and a range of short stories. Among his novels, Paradise was shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prizes; By the Sea was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Desertion was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Several of his recent titles are available in the U.S. from Bloomsbury USA, including The Last Gift (reviewed by Shelf Awareness in 2014).

Book Review


The Rooftop

by Fernanda Trías, trans. by Annie McDermott

In the chilling, spare-but-oh-so-dense novel The Rooftop, Uruguyan writer Fernanda Trías introduces Clara--her name a sharp contrast to her uncertainty, her unknowing. Clara recounts the life that she announces on the opening page "came to an end today." Once upon a time, Clara recalls, "I had a life before this one, a job, a flat, which I now remember nothing about." For the last four years, she's been trapped in a small apartment in an unnamed location, caring for her bedridden father and his caged canary ever since his wife, Clara's stepmother, Julia, died. Clara became mysteriously pregnant and hoped the baby's arrival could mean "We'll be a family again," but the news left Dad "pout[ing] like a petulant child." He's more interested in going out, an impossibility that elicits Clara's rage: "There's no sea, no square, no church, no nothing. The world is what's under this roof," she insists.

Clara, too, stopped leaving, convinced of dangers waiting outside. But at least she has the rooftop to which she occasionally escapes. But as money dwindles, Clara loses electricity and is forced to steal water from the building's courtyard. And yet, for a while, moments of joy still seem possible--especially in the unexpectedly delightful exchanges between her daughter, Flor, and her Dad. But paranoia and desperation grow until "there's nothing of us left."

Awarded the National Uruguayan Literature Prize in 2002, Trías is lauded as one of Latin America's most important contemporary literary voices, with multiple award-winning novels and short stories among her oeuvre. The Rooftop marks Trías's English-language debut, smoothly translated by Annie McDermott. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: An award-winning Uruguayan author makes her English-language debut with a striking, sparse novel about a trapped young woman whose life "came to an end today." 

Charco Press, $15.95, paperback, 112p., 9781913867041

Mystery & Thriller

The Last Guest

by Tess Little

In Tess Little's energetic debut, The Last Guest, a manipulative movie director's murder sets off a solid locked-room mystery about gossip, hatred and fear. Using the backdrop of Hollywood machinations, the novel also looks at how bonds between a teenager and her parents can differ.

Former actress Elspeth Bryant Bell agrees to attend the 50th birthday party of her ex-husband, director Richard Bryant, only for the sake of their 19-year-old daughter, Lillie. Elspeth dreads seeing her despicable ex-husband, but she wants to support her daughter, who appears in Richard's latest movie. Instead of the "sprawling carnival" Richard usually throws, he has invited only nine people, but Lillie is a no-show. The next morning, Richard appears to have overdosed, which police quickly rule a murder. The guests--each of whom the overbearing Richard often publicly humiliated--are suspects, as no one else entered or left the mansion during the evening.

Elspeth's concern for Lillie adds a strong secondary plot, as she tries to give comfort while being careful not to speak ill of Richard, who didn't know how to be a husband or a father. The young woman loved both her parents, overlooking Richard's controlling attitude and neglect. Little delves into the background of each supporting character, though a couple fade into the background. The Last Guest also illustrates why people put up with a toxic workplace, scared not just of losing a job but of being ostracized in a career.

Clever plotting delivers a fitting end inspired by movie making. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer 

Discover: Party guests become the suspects in the murder of a manipulative movie director in this strong debut set against the backdrop of Hollywood.

Ballantine, $27, hardcover, 336p., 9780593238073


The Vanished Days

by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley (Bellewether; Season of Storms) has written another fascinating tale of the Jacobites' attempts to reclaim the Scottish throne. Meticulously researched, with intensely interesting characters, this standalone novel pairs perfectly with Kearsley's Slains series. Set in 1707 Scotland, The Vanished Days tells the story of a young widow named Lily Graeme, a woman whose complicated life parallels that of Scotland itself.

Lily's husband perished in Darien--Scotland's attempted colony in Panama--and she's seeking restitution. Adam Williamson is assigned to investigate the validity of Lily's claim, which forces Lily to share much of her history with him. The tale unfolds in a series of flashbacks to Lily's childhood and young adulthood in the 1680s and 1690s, as the Presbyterian and Episcopalian and Catholic factions within Scotland were simultaneously at war among themselves, and with England.

Lily's family was against unification, and supported King James and the Stewart cause until, after her father's untimely death, the orphaned Lily found herself in increasingly dire straits. Williamson soon realizes that Lily's stories may be unduly influencing him, as he fights his attraction to the pretty young widow.

Atmospheric and fast-paced, yet still exploring the rifts in Scottish society with nuance, The Vanished Days showcases Kearsley's ability nimbly to blend politics and personal tragedy with a side of romance. Perfect for everyone all caught up on Outlander, this is historical fiction at its finest. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: In this fine, atmospheric historical novel, a young woman's dramatic life story is bound up in Scotland's complicated politics.

Sourcebooks Landmark, $26.99, hardcover, 480p., 9781728249582

Shoal Water

by Kip Robinson Greenthal

Kip Robinson Greenthal's enchanting debut novel, Shoal Water, begins with one couple's flight from the daunting disappointments of their past toward the promise of a better life along the barren coastline of a small fishing village in Nova Scotia. Greenthal, a former education director for Seattle Arts & Lectures, received the Landmark Prize for Fiction in 2020 for this shimmering paean to the stark beauty of Nova Scotia, where she lived for 12 years.

In 1971, Kate and her boyfriend, Andy, leave the jagged shards of shattered families behind to build a new future together in Slate Harbour, Nova Scotia, where Andy spent several years as a child. Moving into Andy's old house--supposedly haunted by the ghost of fisherman Basil Tannard, who believed a selkie saved him from drowning one storm-tossed night--they fall into the rhythms of the tightly knit community, which includes Andy's childhood best friend, Ivan. The powerful undercurrents of past demons and an unforeseen love triangle move silently under the surface for years of marriage and children, until the wave breaks upon them all with shattering consequences.

Greenthal creates an atmosphere as thick as the fog blanketing the harbor with her deep knowledge of Nova Scotian people, folklore and sea life. Her finely drawn and sympathetic characters are rendered in lovely prose that elevates their suffering without descending into pathos. Shoal Water is a highly attuned and poetic first novel of people finding their paths amid forces beyond their control. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver, Colo.

Discover: A transcendent debut novel follows the journey of three friends as they encounter the harsh beauty of a Nova Scotian fishing village.

Homebound Publications, $17.95, paperback, 342p., 9781953340269

Graphic Books

This Is How I Disappear

by Mirion Malle, trans. by Aleshia Jensen, Bronwyn Haslam

Twenty-something Clara could seem content with her life: caring friends, social invitations, cozy apartment, a career in publishing, even a book contract. But French Canadian cartoonist Mirion Malle (The League of Super Feminists) introduces her protagonist with a speech bubble--a disturbing confession revealing "the first time I felt like I wanted to die, I was probably, like, twelve?" Translated by Aleshia Jensen and Bronwyn Haslam, Malle's satisfying graphic novel deftly captures the struggles of a young woman battling depression caused by sexual violence.

Malle's stark black-and-white line drawings are mostly just outlines, as if Clara is literally missing the substance necessary to ground her. Indeed, she's barely getting by, withdrawing into isolated darkness. Most of her friends want too much of her energy; her boss doesn't respect her time or accomplishments; her writing leaves her (and her screen) blank. When she can, Clara attempts to get out, provides a shoulder to cry on, does her job, but more and more, being miserably alone is easiest. "I can't even remember what it it's like to feel good," Clara desperately divulges to an empathic friend who's ready to listen fully, to understand without judgment even when she reveals "that dying feels easier." Help, she concedes, might be possible to accept.

Malle writes with exposed vulnerability, her art aptly raw, almost chaotic with unstaunchable tears, overwhelming emotions. Her panels vary from page to page--framed or uncontained, unpredictably sized--deliberately eschewing consistency. Pages turn blank, reflecting Clara's empty exhaustion; pages become black, mirroring unbearable torrents of sadness. The result is haunting--and yet by book's end, surprisingly uplifting. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: Mirion Malle's raw, stylized b&w line drawings incisively capture the breaking-point vulnerability of a young woman suffering depression resulting from sexual violence.

Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95, paperback, 208p., 9781770464612

Biography & Memoir

Capote's Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era

by Laurence Leamer

Never has such terrific gossip been so well-packaged as in Laurence Leamer's beautifully written and superbly researched Capote's Women. Truman Capote cultivated friendships with a coterie of jet-setting, dynamic women, usually married to some of the richest and most powerful men in the world. He called them his "swans," and these friendships lasted decades. "Truman sailed on their yachts, flew on their planes, stayed at their estates, supped at their tables, and heard their most intimate tales," writes Leamer. Capote gathered tales of affairs, abortions, eating disorders, neglected children and marital woes. But when he published a thinly veiled chapter from his novel-in-progress Answered Prayers that exposed many of those secrets, he was exiled from his life of privilege among the rich and famous. His final decade was filled with mental breakdowns, visits to drug and alcohol rehab clinics and ill health.

Leamer (The Price of Justice) bests Capote by telling the full juicy stories of these swans, stories that Capote could only hint about. Leamer introduces readers to Barbara "Babe" Paley, wife of the president of CBS ("Babe had sought wealth and position, not happiness," writes Leamer, "and she achieved precisely what she wanted."); Nancy "Slim" Keith (her affair with Clark Gable was sandwiched between marriages to director Howard Hawks and producer Leland Hayward); Gloria Guinness (her fourth marriage was to one of the richest men in the world); Lee Radziwell; Italian princess Marella Agnelli and others. 

Capote's Women not only spills all the page-turning scandals of his swans but also the compelling rise and fall of the diminutive gay author. This is celebrity gossip of the highest quality. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: This scintillating look behind the curtain at some of the richest and most powerful women in the world is fabulously entertaining.

Putnam, $28, hardcover, 368p., 9780593328088

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life

by Sutton Foster

Broadway and TV star Sutton Foster swears by crafting--not only as a hobby, but as a way to deal with drama (on and off the stage) and make something beautiful. In Hooked, her breezy, engaging memoir, Foster shares her adventures in cross-stitch, collage, crochet and other forms of crafting, alongside anecdotes from her career and her life.

Foster examines her personal and professional journey--her first national tour, her Broadway debut, her first marriage, her journey to motherhood--through the lens of creative projects. Along the way, she reflects on her Midwestern childhood, her complicated relationship with her agoraphobic mother and her struggle to build friendships as a young woman. Readers will savor behind-the-scenes glimpses of Foster's work on Broadway shows like Anything Goes and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and her later TV projects such as Bunheads and Younger. Foster keeps her tone light and approachable while exploring heavy subjects: her parents' stormy marriage, her insecurities as a young performer, her struggles with infertility.

As Foster and her fans both know, crafting projects (and life) don't always turn out as expected. She shares frankly about her failures: a stained embroidery project, a too-tight cardigan, a batch of inedible muffins. But there are also successes: a blanket for her newborn daughter, collages and drawings she's hung in galleries (and dressing rooms), countless batches of Christmas cookies. Perfect for Foster fans and those who believe in the power of making things, Hooked is as cozy as the afghans Foster loves to stitch backstage. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Sutton Foster's breezy, engaging memoir shares anecdotes from her life alongside the craft projects she's done at each stage.

Grand Central, $28, hardcover, 256p., 9781538734285

Now in Paperback

We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

by Elijah Cummings, James Dale, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

Elijah Cummings's We're Better Than This--a 2020 Essence Best Book of the Year and NAACP Image Awards Winner for Outstanding Literary Work in the Debut Author category--is part memoir, part behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of American democracy and part call to action. That last piece is, perhaps, the most crucial concept readers can take from the life Cummings dedicated to public service.

Though Cummings began the work on this book himself, he and James Dale were unable to finish the project prior to the congressman's death in 2019. Dale, along with Cummings's widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, completed the work posthumously to honor Cummings's wish to share his story with his nation, working diligently, Dale notes, "to make sure that this book was true to his vision and his wishes." The result is remarkable, capturing not only Cummings's stories but his voice (an effect further enhanced in the audio version, narrated by Laurence Fishburne).

We're Better Than This takes its title from an oft-repeated phrase in Cummings's speeches, in which he displayed a righteous outrage at the state of American democracy in the 21st century. Though Cummings himself died before much of his work could be completed--to repair the damage he saw--his own words can be a comfort and a clarion call to act in trying times: "When it seems like you can't do anything, do something. Don't say it's too big or too oppressive to overcome. Start. Try. Now." He started the work--and now it's up to us to take it from here. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: Published posthumously, the memoir of the late Representative Elijah Cummings offers hope and an urgent call to action to protect U.S. democracy.

Harper Paperbacks, $17.99, paperback, 272p., 9780062992277

Children's & Young Adult

It Fell from the Sky

by Terry Fan, Eric Fan

Siblings Terry and Eric Fan (The Night Gardener) craft a winsome world of bugs and botanicals in this meticulously drawn story of outsize wonder and greed, disproportionate to its diminutive setting.

"It fell from the sky on a Thursday," the narrator says of a gleaming orb that lands among the dandelions and mesmerizes the local bug and small wildlife population. The cat's-eye marble, transparent except for twists of lemon yellow, kelly green and turquoise, is luminous against the grayscale landscape. The black-and-white inhabitants can't identify it. Meanwhile, the Spider skulks in the margins, spinning. In the morning, he insists he owns the Wonder from the Sky. "After all," he says, "it fell right into my web." The other creatures don't remember the web being there the day before, "but in fairness nobody remembered it not being there either." The Spider raises an exhibit around the marble and charges one leaf per ticket. He grows wealthy until rising prices drive away his audience, and a "five-legged creature" readers will recognize as a child's hand takes the Wonder "back to the sky." Deserted, the Spider repents his selfishness and uses webs to catch more colorful objects from the sky, building a free sculpture garden for his community.

The Fans create a satisfying vintage feel with their playfully formal diction and detailed graphite and digital illustrations, which mix realism and whimsy. Each exquisitely detailed spread invites a longer, closer look, and the restrained palette's grayscale and color contrast recalls the film The Wizard of Oz. Only the items "from the sky" and the leaf currency are in color, suggesting their otherworldly quality and allure. Fans of David Wiesner should especially love this immersive miniature world where marbles are marvels and community spirit triumphs over filthy leaves--er, lucre. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth experience manager, Dayton Metro Library

Discover: In this exquisitely drawn picture book, a marble creates humorous, ultimately meaningful upheaval among a charming community of bugs and other creatures.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99, hardcover, 56p., ages 4-8, 9781534457621

Before We Disappear

by Shaun David Hutchinson

A captivating queer love story unfolds between two teenage magician's assistants in Shaun David Hutchinson's Before We Disappear.

Set against the beguiling backdrop of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the shrewd, "pale as an egg" 16-year-old Jack works for the power-hungry magician, the Enchantress. Jack's mother died when he was six, forcing him to steal to survive--when the Enchantress caught him stealing from her, she groomed him to be her assistant. When greedy rival magician Laszlo appears at the fair eager to upstage the Enchantress, Jack quickly falls for Laszlo's shy, blue-eyed assistant, Wilhelm. While sneaking out to visit Wil, Jack learns Laszlo kidnapped the young man 12 years ago, when he was four. Laszlo now exploits Wil's secret ability to travel invisibly and move objects from place to place. Jack vows to help Wil escape to safety, but it's dangerous to cross Laszlo. "Since kidnapping me, [Laszlo has] traveled the country with me and forced me... to commit all manner of crimes," Wil reveals to Jack. "He threatened me that if I tell anyone, try to ask for help, or run away, he'll murder me or anyone I know."

Hutchinson (At the Edge of the Universe; We Are the Ants) compellingly crafts dysfunctional relationships between the young men and their magician bosses/pseudo-parents. Despite daily bouts of psychological and emotional manipulation, Jack and Wil still seek attention and approval from the magicians, who are the only family they know. As the narrative switches between Wil and Jack, Hutchinson maintains an undercurrent of unease and suspense, as each flirts with their own agency and one another. Hutchinson successfully blends the historically rich setting with a gritty, desperate fantasy love story. --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, co-creator of Gender Inclusive Classrooms

Discover: A captivating queer love story unfolds amid a sinister rivalry between two magicians during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

HarperTeen, $17.99, hardcover, 512p., ages 12-up, 9780063025226

Powered by: Xtenit