cover image The Scourge

The Scourge

Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-545-68245-9

Best friends Ani and Weevil are part of a loyal, hardworking community of River People living under the thumb of Governor Felling of Keldan, who denies them voting rights and infringes on their borders. Though they have little, Ani, an only child, and fatherless Weevil are devoted to each other. When Ani and Della, the well-heeled daughter of a prominent Keldan family, are taken to Attic Island after testing positive for the Scourge, a deadly and incurable plague, Weevil joins them. There, Ani finds herself in trouble as she tests the boundaries of the wardens’ powers. As Ani mysteriously gets stronger while Della weakens, she and Weevil discover a band of dissidents who claim to be cured of the Scourge. The dissidents’ belief that River People are “dirty” and “cowards” is overturned as they work with Ani and Weevil to uncover a conspiracy. Nielsen’s (A Night Divided) polished fantasy smoothly combines medieval elements with hints of mystery and romance. Though the plot is conventional, it delivers a significant message about how misinformation breeds intolerance. Ages 10–14. [em]Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Aug.) [/em]