Millennia in the future, a boy engineered to re-create a legend breaks free to find his own purpose in Moonbound, a lush combination of science fiction and fantasy from Robin Sloan (Sourdough, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore).

Twelve-year-old orphan Ariel lives in a small town created and controlled by a wizard named Malory. His foster brother, Kay, is about to become a knight but has "mislaid" his sword. Rather than attempt to remove the sword that everybody knows is impossibly stuck in its stone, Ariel fetches a sword from the tomb of an ancient warrior meant to fight AI dragons from a civilization long disappeared. On his first visit to the tomb, Ariel acquired the warrior's "chronicler and counselor," a self-aware creation of "hearty fungus onto which much technology has been layered," which serves as the novel's narrator. The chronicler recognizes this story--and recognizes that it has gone astray. Having unintentionally upended Malory's plans, Ariel escapes through the forest in hopes of finding help and returning to his brother, and discovers a wide world of talking animals, abandoned technology, and the power of story.

Drawing inspiration from classics such as A Wrinkle in Time and The Wizard of Oz, Sloan sends his hero on a journey full of endearing characters. Clovis, a wandering robot with many bodies, and Durga, "she who sleeps in the stars," will tug at readers' heartstrings. Readers who enjoy the work of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab should check this out. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

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