Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Choices

Edited by Mercedes Lackey. DAW, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1468-9

In the latest collection of fantasy short stories set in the land of Valdemar (after Tales of Valdemar), fantasist Lackey and others create heroic stories of men and women using their magical gifts to help others. Most feature heralds with horselike companions who communicate through Mindspeak; others showcase healers and bards. In “Moving On” by Diana L. Paxton, Selaine uses her Fetching gift to pull an illness out of her mother, but when she tries to get a stolen coin back, she pulls the thief back, too. “Cloud Born” by Michele Lang shows that blind Cloudbrother can be a powerful herald who saves entire towns. In the moving final story by Lackey, “Woman’s Need Calls Me,” a sword that can only be wielded by women is called to a trans woman and magically gives her the body she longs for. This book may be hard to follow for readers unfamiliar with Valdemar and the Magewars, but the tales will be well received by longtime fans. Agent: Russ Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Shattered Sun

Rachel Dunne. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-242819-6

The Bound Gods trilogy concludes (following The Bones of the Earth) with the rise of evil Twin Gods in a now permanently dark world following their destruction of the sun. Following the Twins’ rise, the protagonists retreat underground to regain their strength. Keiro, once a nobody, now acts on the Twins’ behalf, but he must prove to their followers that he is worthy. Former priest Jorros, mages Anddyr and Aro, and warrior Rora lost a battle against the Twins, and many of Rora’s fellow warriors were killed. They return to Rora’s pack and are punished for the loss of lives in the battle. Priestess Vatri and swordsman Scal are building a following to fight the Twins, with Scal becoming known as the Nightbreaker now that the original gods, known as the Parents, have blessed him with a sword of fire and ice. Although the story is often bogged down with unnecessary detail and distracting subplots, series fans will be rewarded by the powerful conclusion. Agent: Matt Bialer, Donald Maass Literary. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Storyteller of Damascus

Rafik Schami, illus. by Peter Knorr, trans. from the German by Hiltrud Schulz and Michel Moushabeck. Crocodile, $18.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62371-971-5

An anonymous young narrator recounts hearing a traveling storyteller’s tale of Sami, a determined shepherd who stands up to an angry father, bests gangsters, milks a lioness, and risks imprisonment to marry his true love, Leyla. The troubadour’s wonder chest reveals the story’s images to listening children; as they fade over time, he replaces them with modern advertisements, including toothpaste and car promotions. The beautiful Leyla becomes Colgate, the quest for Lioness Milk involves picking up a can at the “health food store across the street,” and the tale becomes “weirder and weirder, more and more unbelievable.” When the storyteller returns after a two-year absence, his chest “no longer had wands or picture rolls,” but the narrator still sees within it Sami, “a boy who was more beautiful than the moon and braver than a panther.” Rich, detailed art by Knorr showcases the story’s marked evolution and the storyteller’s magical box as Schami invites readers to explore the power of storytelling and change in this artful picture book. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Who Will I Be?

Abby Huntsman, illus. by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. HarperCollins, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-284004-2

The View cohost Huntsman makes her picture book debut with this well-intentioned though bland story starring Isabel, who’s crestfallen because she has no answer to her teacher’s question, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” When Isabel shares her conundrum with her father, he asks, “What makes you happy?” and based on her reply suggests, “Maybe you want to be someone who helps people.” As they walk home, he points out such service workers as a crossing guard, police officer, librarian, garbage collector, and pastor. Some prosaic scenarios add to the book’s message: as a reporter interviews a fireman who’s rescued a kitten in a tree, Isabel’s father explains, “Journalists make sure we know what’s happening.” And after joining them, the girl’s mother, who “worked at the mayor’s office... because Isabel’s mom was the mayor!”, notes, “My job is to help the people of this city by listening to them and passing laws to make their lives better.” Chipper mixed-media pictures by Lew-Vriethoff (The Invisible String) give the story its oomph, illuminating its message about the rewards of helping others and the value of service workers. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Zenobia

Morten Dürr, illus. by Lars Horneman. Triangle Square, $19.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-60980-873-0

Global news stories have brought urgent attention to the Syrian children who have drowned as they fled their war-ravaged country; this bleak, skillfully crafted graphic novel, translated from the Danish, personalizes the headlines by imagining one child’s experience. In an opening scene, a boat perilously overfilled with refugees floats on a calm sea. Then a storm arrives, the waves surge, and a girl is flung into open water. As she begins to descend, she revisits scenes from her desperate journey: sparse wartime meals, her parents’ disappearance, and her terrifying, multi-day walk to the sea, where her uncle places her on board the dangerously packed vessel. Along the way, she finds courage and comfort by considering her mother’s stories of Zenobia, an ancient Syrian queen. Dürr uses few words, allowing Horneman’s uncluttered panels to tell most of the heartrending story. Indicating past and present, land and sea with skillful palette shifts, Horneman provides just enough detail to evoke the grim contexts while keeping readers focused on the child. The combined restraint of both the pictures and words powerfully amplifies the astonishing tragedy of the girl’s fate, creating an unforgettable story that will stay with teens and adults alike. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Take-It Take-It Lady

Kveta Pacovská. Minedition, $39.99 (64p) ISBN 978-988-8341-65-8

Czech artist Pacovská’s rawly inventive retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” swaps out the archetypal, golden-haired protagonist for a cryptic character known as the “Take-It Take-It Lady.” Glossy, laminated pages are colored in dramatic shades of red, black, and white, filled in with sharply angled, layered collage forms and carnivalesque figures. The title character has a beak-like nose, wears patchwork clothing and pointy shoes, and earned her moniker because “she always took things that didn’t belong to her.” When she comes upon a little house, she enters through a window and makes herself at home. Those who don’t initially recognize the familiar tale may make the association with the arrival of the bears—crudely drawn in red, marker-like lines. Once the bears discover the Take-It Take-It Lady sleeping in the smallest bear’s bed, she hastily jumps out the window and disappears. Pacovská concludes this wonderfully peculiar staging on a sensible note: the next time the bears go to the forest, “they will make sure to close all the windows in their house!!!” Ages 7–9. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
What We Buried

Kate A. Boorman. Holt, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-19167-0

Estranged siblings Jory, 18, and Lavinia (Liv), 16, are brought back together when Liv files an emancipation lawsuit against their parents. Their parents vanish just before the trial is set to begin, and Liv, a former child beauty pageant winner and reality TV star, convinces Jory to join her in a trip to find them. Jory, born with Moebius syndrome, has always felt invisible to his image-obsessed parents, while Liv has lived out a nightmare in front of thousands of viewers who saw her as a pretty, spoiled brat. The siblings’ road trip reveals more than either expected, and years of resentment are washed away with a mutual understanding that both suffered at the hands of their parents. Boorman (Winterkill) creates an almost dreamlike thriller about two young people trying to figure out fact from fiction after trauma. Told through the alternating perspectives of Jory and Liv, Boorman’s perceptive novel underlines the different types of abuse that children can suffer and the long-lasting psychological effects of abuse on young minds. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
We Set the Dark on Fire

Tehlor Kay Mejia. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-269131-6

In this debut starring Latina teens, Mejia spins a complicated tale of love, intrigue, moral compromise, and action, with a prescient sensibility that echoes current headlines and political issues. In an island nation divided by a wall, where tradition dictates that upper-class women marry out of duty and that every man has two wives, two school rivals are matched with the ambitious scion of a political family. Danielle Vargas, 17, has trained for years to be the perfect Primera, the ideal intellectual partner for her husband-to-be, while her friend-turned-foe, Carmen Santos, was born to be a Segunda, the passionate nurturer of the family. But the husband they must share, Mateo Garcia, is cold, domineering, secretive, and utterly uninterested in Danielle’s desire to help. When a revolutionary group uncovers her greatest secret—she’s from the impoverished side of the walled country and holds forged identity papers—they blackmail her into spying on the Garcia family. Even as Danielle becomes further embroiled in conspiracy and subversion, she and Carmen forge an unexpected and intense relationship. The first in a duology, this fierce, feminist novel throws memorable characters into a provocative set of circumstances, and the constant twists will leave readers yearning for the conclusion. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-spun

Hilary McKay, illus. by Sarah Gibb. S&S/McElderry, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3284-0

Stepping assuredly into fantasy, McKay (the Casson Family series) displays ingenuity and wit in these 10 cunningly reconfigured tales, illustrated with Gibb’s stunning silhouette artwork. The inventive array of narrators includes classic fairy tale characters as adults (whose identities are initially ambiguous), sharing their stories with subsequent generations. The present-day adventures of Rapunzel’s two children frame her tale; Snow White reaches into her past to tell her granddaughter the story of a girl who escapes from her wicked stepmother to live with dwarfs (and offers to take her to visit the seven, still living in the forest); and the eldest of 12 dancing princesses, while recounting her girlhood nocturnal escapades, reassures her skeptical daughter that there “was a lot more magic about” in bygone days. Abundantly magical, the anthology also features new characters, among them the prim Fraulein, who teaches Hansel and Gretel and their off-puttingly “sticky” schoolmates, including Jack of beanstalk fame. In her introduction, McKay notes, “If ever I wrote a book with love, it is this one!” That is wonderfully apparent, and kids will read it in kind. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Pulse, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9857-9

Death isn’t much of a mystery for 17-year-old Dino DeLuca, whose family owns a funeral home. Although he’s a dab hand at preparing bodies for burial, he’d rather be doing anything else, especially now that the newest body waiting for prep is his former best friend, July Cooper, who died of a brain aneurism. Dino regrets that their last words were harsh, but then July comes back to life, or unlife (she has no heartbeat and doesn’t breathe). Together, the teens scramble to find the reason for July’s return while keeping her under wraps, which isn’t easy: she smells of decomposition. Additionally, people all over the world aren’t dying after incidents that should be fatal. Dual narratives and a tight timeline, set over a few days, help to keep the pace brisk. Hutchinson (The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza) has his trademark humor on display, but messages about the necessity of death and letting go feel overly emphasized, while Dino and July never completely emerge into fully rounded characters. Dino’s tentative romance with kind-hearted trans teen Rafi is sweet, but caustic July’s shabby treatment of Dino makes it hard to fathom why their friendship lasted so long. The conceit is arresting, but this mostly surface-level exploration of friendship and grief fails to emotionally connect. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.