Always Emily

Michaela MacColl. Chronicle, $16.99 (296p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1174-2

MacColl (Nobody’s Secret) weaves a suspenseful story set on the English moors in this historical novel loosely based on the Brontë family. Focusing on the personality clashes between petite, prudent Charlotte and tall, headstrong Emily, she crafts a well-paced period mystery with just the right dash of romance to make the book appropriate for sophisticated readers even younger than the target audience. Echoing the Brontës’ own fictions, the desolation of the moors is an ideal setting for frightening encounters and gripping confrontations—a fierce dog, a handsome young stranger, a possibly insane runaway woman, and her potentially dangerous brother all figure in the many strands of the plot, along with a multitude of well-drawn minor characters. While the outcomes of some of the tensest scenes are a little unbelievable, the prolonged climax is satisfyingly action-filled and breathtakingly resolved. In an extensive author’s note, MacColl presents the Brontës’ biographical information and explains the liberties she took; her envoi encourages readers to go to the original novels—a worthy challenge that many will likely take up after reading this one. Ages 12–up. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)