cover image From Dust, a Flame

From Dust, a Flame

Rebecca Podos. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-269906-0

The day after turning 17, Hannah Kowalski wakes up in Jamaica Plain, Mass., with snake eyes, and the next day with wolflike fangs, too. Saying she knows a healer, her frequently peripatetic mother disappears, leaving Hannah and her older brother Gabe alone to cope with the changes. Hannah already feels like the odd one out in her family—their mother prefers theater kid Gabe, who is adopted, to biological child Hannah. But the siblings are close, and when they receive a death announcement for the grandmother they’ve never met, they travel to their mother’s hometown in the Hudson Valley. There, they find out how little they know about her, including that her family are observant Jews. The two join forces with Ari Leydon, a local teen to whom Hannah is attracted, to investigate family history and Jewish folklore, especially golems and demons. Podos (The Wise and the Wicked) shifts between Hannah’s first-person voice and a third-person narrative from the past, deftly blending Jewish fact and legend to create a tale of secrets, history, and daring with white-cued characters. The result is the rare read that may appeal equally to lovers of contemporary and fantasy novels. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eric Smith, P.S. Literary Agency. (Feb.)