cover image Unseen Magic

Unseen Magic

Emily Lloyd-Jones. Greenwillow, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-305798-2

“The Tea shop tended to vanish” begins Lloyd-Jones’s (The Bone Houses) middle grade debut, immediately immersing readers in the magic-infused town of Aldermere, Calif., situated at the edge of a redwood forest. In order to avoid releasing dangerous magic, the town’s residents follow a number of rules: “Doors must be labeled or they can lead anywhere. Pay the ravens or keep your garbage bins inside. Never keep a knife that’s tasted your blood.” Eleven-year-old Finley Barnes has lived in Aldermere for three years, since her mother decided they should settle in her hometown after a life on the move. It’s the first place Fin’s felt at home, but she’s still bothered by her crayon-scrawled list of “things that were to be avoided at all costs.” For the price of one memory, though, Aldermere’s tea shop will give her a brew that temporarily relieves her anxiety. But when she removes tea from the shop and brews it herself, Fin accidentally unleashes a monster made of the leaves who looks just like her. Could it be responsible for the string of incidents occurring in usually peaceful Aldermere? Offering suspense, reassurance, and magic in a deeply alluring setting, Lloyd-Jones shows how erasing bad memories doesn’t make fear disappear through a presumed-white heroine’s arc toward bravery. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Landis, Sterling Lloyd Literistic. (Feb.)