cover image My Imaginary Mary

My Imaginary Mary

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. HarperTeen, $18.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-293007-1

When 17-year-olds Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley née Godwin meet at a party, they become thick as thieves in Ashton, Hand, and Meadows’s (My Contrary Mary) inventive historical fiction collaboration, set in London during the Industrial Revolution. Writer Mary lives a quiet life hopelessly pining after dashing poet Percy Shelley. Meanwhile, Ada spends her time desperately trying to get her robot Pan (aka Practical Automaton Number One) to work. When Mary’s purportedly fae godmother, Miss Stamp, suddenly appears from a previously unknown door inside Mary’s wardrobe, Miss Stamp informs her that she’s been endowed with magical abilities that “can make what we imagine real.” Science-minded Ada is skeptical, until Mary brings Pan to life. Chaos ensues when, following Pan’s animation, mysterious villains come knocking on the girls’ door. The teens’ bitingly clever alternating perspectives, interspersed via an omniscient narrator, occasionally convey historical tidbits in direct asides to the reader—as when setting the time period: “the year 18—mumble mumble (sorry, the exact date is a bit smudged)”—handily rendering a riotous romp through two prominent figures’ imagined—and winningly fantastical—lives. Ages 13–up. (Aug.)