cover image The Sunbearer Trials (The Sunbearer #1)

The Sunbearer Trials (The Sunbearer #1)

Aiden Thomas. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-82213-0

Intensely perilous competition and an innovative mythos permeate this thrilling duology opener by Thomas (Lost in the Never Woods). At the dawn of creation, the god Sol, “alone in the universe,” created godly children: the “powerful but vain” Golds; “kind but focused” Jades; “passionate but selfish” Obsidians; and the mortals, whom Sol loved most of all. The Obsidians were eventually locked away for their crimes against the gods and mortals, and kept at bay by Sun Stones, which were formed from Sol’s body. Now, every decade, the Sunbearer Trials are held to find a champion to relight the stones while the loser is sacrificed to fuel them. Golds have participated in the trial almost exclusively, until now: two trans boys, 17-year-old Teo, son of the Jade goddess of birds, is chosen alongside 13-year-old Xio, son of the Jade god of bad luck. Since Teo lacks the training that his fearsome Gold competitors receive, he must work with Xio and his one Gold friend to ensure they don’t lose. Thomas’s queernormative world and distinctly drawn cast deliver an upbeat fantasy teeming with captivating worldbuilding, earnest friendships, and electrifying adventure. Characters are described as having brown skin of varying tones. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer March Soloway, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)