cover image Riverland


Fran Wilde. Amulet, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3372-7

Wilde (Updraft) skillfully blurs the lines of fantasy and reality in a haunting middle grade story of sisters connected through trauma and a shared mythology. Middle schooler Eleanor and her little sister, Mary (“Mike”), have long believed in house magic—a force that sweeps away the shards of objects broken in anger and returns the home to a semblance of normal. But one night, a river appears in the girls’ bedroom, and both are swallowed into a watery dreamworld of anthropomorphic creatures, including a talking heron, nightmarish equines, and a terrifying snake woman. But as sinister as elements of Riverland are, the world they are most in need of escaping is the one where they should feel the most safe. When the girls’ mother, wearing dark glasses to conceal her bruises, takes them to their estranged grandmother’s house, the sisters believe that their attentive relative may share their connection to Riverland, as well as the girls’ sense of obligation to keep the nightmares from spilling into the waking world. Beneath the surface of Wilde’s fantastical, if at times muddied, metaphors lies the far more chilling and profound portrayal of domestic abuse and the lengths to which people can go to deny the most painful of truths. Ages 10–14. [em](Apr.) [/em]