cover image The Emperor of Any Place

The Emperor of Any Place

Tim Wynne-Jones. Candlewick, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6973-7

Wynne-Jones (Blink & Caution) deftly blends realism and fantasy in this eerie tale featuring Evan, a high school student mourning his late father, and Griff, the crusty grandfather Evan meets for the first time. Evan always knew that his ex-Marine grandfather and draft-dodger father never saw eye to eye, but he wasn’t aware of his grandfather’s unearthly encounters during WWII until he discovers the mysterious diary of a Japanese soldier. When Griff shows up at Evan’s door, Evan is immediately put off by his grandfather’s controlling tendencies, but his curiosity is piqued. Could this be the same man mentioned in the diary, who visited an island filled with flesh-eating monsters and the ghosts of unborn children? Readers will be swept up quickly in the tense relationship between Evan and Griff, as well as the unlikely friendship between enemy soldiers fighting for survival in a surreal landscape. Without spelling out the metaphoric significance of the story within the story, Wynne-Jones provides enough hints for readers to make connections and examine the lines between war and peace, as well as hate and love. Ages 14–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Oct.)