We All Fall Down (The River City Duology #1)

Rose Szabo. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-3743-1432-3

Hidden somewhere in the U.S. is the once prosperous River City, whose magic is waning after a revolution overthrew its last king and the witches who simultaneously ruled. Now, the city is controlled by its university hospital and police force, both of which operate with little accountability. But the prophesied cycle to replenish the dying magic is beginning again, centering four young people: white, gender-fluid newcomer Jesse Archer; Black physics professor David Blank; David’s unnamed twin, a trans girl born with tentacles and “crimson skin”; and gay, white Jack Marley, who frequents River City’s criminal underground. When their paths intertwine, they’re embroiled in the mystery of a murdered policeman as they delve into the city’s oppressive government amid magical conspiracy. Narratively, the city’s lore, especially its revolution’s history, is sometimes vague, but its streets are resplendent with both menace and whimsy, including a German shepherd crime boss. Interludes following secondary characters sometimes slow the pace, and a protagonist’s decision, while true to life, frustratingly undermines the premise. Even so, Szabo (What Big Teeth) uses alternating third-person perspectives to tenaciously interrogate police violence and racism, making for a promising duology starter. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Azantian, Azantian Literary. (June)
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