cover image Rust in the Root

Rust in the Root

Justina Ireland. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-303822-6

Ireland (Dread Nation) delivers a knockout punch in this fantastical steampunk take on the Great Depression, in which the U.S. rebuilds after a magical blight throws the country into disarray. In 1937, Black 17-year-old Laura Ann Langston, a powerful queer mage hailing from small-town Shrinesville, Pa., goes to New York City seeking a grand future beyond her family’s humble farm. Unable to procure a job and low on funds, she seeks help from the Colored Auxiliary branch of the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps—a group of Black mages responsible for maintaining the magical machines that power the U.S. economy. Mages sent to research and manage the blight that still threatens the country’s machinery are disappearing, and the Skylark, the enigmatic head of the Floramancy Division, grudgingly takes Laura on as her apprentice. But Laura and the Skylark fear for their lives and the country’s future when their investigation unveils dangerous archaic magic thought long gone. Ireland mingles an in-depth understanding of human nature with a wildly ambitious reimagining of the Depression era, balancing matters of race, gender, and sexuality in this thoroughly unique perspective of historical magical fantasy. B&W photographs depicting real-life U.S. history, featured throughout, enrich the narrative. Ages 14–up. [em](Sept.) [/em]