Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fantasy Tuesday

It is important to note, if you are new to the blog, that I really do try to read ALL of the new middle grade books that are published. I read books before I buy them for my school library, and if it is a book in a series or something so popular I can't get ahold of before I buy it, I read it before it goes on the shelf. 

I don't buy the books I like, although it helps. I buy books that my STUDENTS will like. 

This changes over time, and I usually have enough books from the past so that when interests change, I can buy a few new things and keep readers happy. In 2022-23, there was a huge surge in requests for horse books, for example, an ongoing desire for horror, sports, and humor, and a tiny increase in demand for novels in verse and in historical fiction. 

Fantasy, however, has seen a steady decline since I started in 2003. The previous librarian had purchased a ton of fantasy books, and I had readers who couldn't get enough of Lloyd Alexander or Brian Jacques. Now, very few readers want fantasy, but there is more than ever being published! I do love that the books are much more diverse, and I try to recommend titles I enjoyed to readers, but I just can't buy it all, especially since much of the fantasy is in long series. I'm writing this in June, when over half the books I've read are fantasy. 

While I might not purchase all of these titles, I know that other libraries differ in what circulates, so please take a look to see what will work for your library. 

Calejo, Ryan. The Shape of Time
September 12, 2023 by Amulet Books
EARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Antares de la Vega lives in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, with his aunt. His parents were professional cartographers whose boat tragically sank when he was a year old. He has panic attacks but loves his Aunt Celeste, and is very curious about the world around him. When he goes to school one day, things get very weird. Substitute teachers show up, but there's something wrong about them. Mr. Now, Mr. Minutes, and Mr. Hoursback aren't like normal subs, and Antares doesn't know what's going on. His friend Mikey is sad that he didn't see any of them, but when Mr. Now show up at Antares' door, things get even stranger! Soon, crocodilian creatures in raincoats are hauling him off in a shipping container to an island castle in the control of a warlord known as Mystic. He meets Zamanger and Magdavellia in the prison, and they help him gain the skills he needs to figure out Rymworld and find his parents. 320 pages.
Strengths: I was a big fan of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, and Mr. Now and his accomplices certainly put me in mind of that adventure! Antares is a more modern hero with present day concerns; his anxiety and feeling of "not fitting in" will speak to many young readers. The island is well developed, and the training and figuring out of riddles reminded me a bit of the new Spellbinders by Auseon. The cover is fantastic, and the Latine heritage is great to see. 
Weaknesses: Dormant powers, magical alternate universe, missing parents, and a quest make this pretty standard fantasy territory, but there are also "squishy molemen", which is new.
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who like a good quirky orphan quest  like Bing's Molly Moon,  Sanderson's Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians or Bosch's The Name of this Book is Secret but want more of a science fiction feel. 

Durham, David Anthony. The Longest Night in Egypt (The Shadow Prince #2)
September 26, 2023 by Lee & Low Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Do not confuse this series with Last Gate of the Emperor and The Royal TrialsThe pink and purple on the cover of both first books threw me! This had lots of action and adventure, and the first book has circulated well, so I'll definitely purchase. 400 pages.

From the Publisher:
The Shadow Prince saga continues as Ash and his heroic friends rush to save Ra from the belly of Apep and bring light back to an Egypt that has been plunged into darkness.

Back at his evil tricks, Set, the devious god of chaos has rid Egypt of the sun god Ra and plunged the kingdom into never-ending night. He's even managed to trap the rest of the gods in a palace chamber without the use of their magic. Now demons run amok in the city, filling it with chaos and destruction.

But hope is not lost! Ash, Prince Khufu, Seret, Gilli, and two new friends, Thea and Iset, must brave the depths of the Duat--the spooky, cavernous Egyptian underworld--to rescue Lord Ra. Numerous demons fly about them in the darkness. Deadly peril awaits them around every craggy corner. They must fight, trick, sneak, and solve riddles to pass through each successive gate. If Team Shadow Prince can manage to get through all that, they will still have to face a demon like none they've seen before: the fierce, wily, enormous, god-eating serpent, Apep.

Will the kids prevail? Can Ash and his friends reunite Ra's magic with the sun and bring power and light back to the kingdom? Or will Egypt remain in darkness forever?

Clayton, Dhonielle. The Memory Thieves (The Marvellers #2)
September 26, 2023 by Lee & Low Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus\

It seems likely that this will have a volume for each year that Ella is in the institute, but I didn't pay enough attention to figure out how many years this would be. This has a richly developed fantasy world with enough action and lots of friend drama. The first book has circulated well with my hard core fantasy fans. 416 pages

From the Publisher:
Eager to wield their stapiers for Marvel Combat, Ella, Brigit, and Jason are back for their second year at the Arcanum Training Institute. With Ella’s celebrity growing throughout the Marvellian world after thwarting the Ace of Anarchy’s diabolical plans, it’s proving hard for her to focus on her coursework. But back home in New Orleans the Conjure community isn’t too happy about her return to the skies for another year learning to become a Marveller. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, Ella soon discovers more dangerous secrets about the Conjure architect who built the school.

Before she can dig deeper, a mysterious magical illness sweeps through the Institute, and Ella lands at the top of the suspect list. Can Ella and her friends save themselves and the Marvellian world before chaos breaks loose?

1 comment:

  1. I'm so impressed that you are able to keep up with so many new MG releases! I love the books, but I started out as a YA reviewer, and added MG when my oldest reached that reading age. I've never been able to juggle them both as successfully as I'd like. :) The kids in your library are lucky to have someone as well-informed as you are!