cover image The Book of Storms

The Book of Storms

Ruth Hatfield. Holt, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9998-0

Eleven-year-old Danny O’Neill awakens after a thunderstorm to find he’s been abandoned by his parents and suddenly is able to speak to plants and animals. Setting out to find his family, Danny is plagued by the terrifying creature Sammael, a sandman who inhabits dreams, bargains for souls, and wants Danny dead. With a distinctly British wit, debut author Hatfield weaves a dark and twisted tale in the vein of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, as Danny searches for the titular book—“just a flat black shape in the darkness, full of some kind of promise”—along with his cousin and protector Tom. In this trilogy opener, Hatfield creates an imaginative, whimsical world filled with distinctively voiced flora and fauna and other strange characters, including her personification of Death as an old woman who cradles the newly deceased like a grandmotherly angel. Hatfield doesn’t shy from depicting violent deaths or the occasional bit of gore, but the story is never gratuitous—the frights are just enough to keep readers’ hearts racing as they read late into the night. Ages 10–14. Agency: Lindsay Literary Agency. (Jan.)