A Face Like Glass (Amulet Books, 2017) by Frances Hardinge is set in a believable, yet very unique underground city of Caverna.
Neverfell doesn’t remember anything before she was five when she ended up living and working with Cheesemaster Grandible as his cheese making apprentice. Her master makes her wear a mask whenever she meets anyone, which doesn’t happen very often as she’s never let outside his tunnels. At twelvish, Neverfell assumes the mask is because she’s so ugly. But when Neverfell goes out into the city itself, others think her face is terrifying, but for a reason she could never imagine. Will Neverfell be able to solve the mystery of where she came from?
If you like middle grade fantasy, you should read this book.
The cover on the left is the cover of the book I read. The cover on the right is the UK version, which I like better. The book originally came out in 2012.
Author Frances Hardinge has written a number of other books. You can read about them in her library. Her bio made me laugh. She likes wearing black hats as you can see here.
Rules for Thieves (Aladdin, 2017) by Alexandra Ott was a satisfying story.
For twelve-year-old Alli adoption day at the orphanage is the worst. No one wants her and she doesn’t want to be adopted either. When taken into a room with potential parents, she escapes the orphanage for the final time. Unfortunately, life on the streets does not go well and she is cursed with a spell that will eventually kill her. She meets Beck, a young thief, who not only helps her get food, but has an idea of how she can raise the money to save her life. Through Beck she may have found a home of her own with the Thieves Guild, but will she pass the trial they’ve set?
I don’t want to do spoilers, but was very pleased with the decisions Alli makes in the end.
This is author Alexandra Ott’s debut fantasy. A sequel is coming in summer 2018, which makes me happy. Alexandra is also an editorial assistant at Entangled Publishing. Read more about her on her website.
Prisoner of Ice and Snow (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2017) by Ruth Lauren is a compelling fantasy that I found difficult to put down.
Thirteen-year-old Valor wants to go to prison. It’s the only way she can save her twin sister, Sasha. So Valor does the only thing she can think of–shoots at the royal prince during a parade. She misses, but is sentenced to life in prison for threatening a royal’s life. Once in prison, however, she can’t find her sister. How can Valor and her sister escape if she can’t even find Sasha?
The book is a Junior Library Guild selection.
This is Ruth Lauren’s debut book. You can read about her on her website and see the UK cover, which I actually like better than the US cover. Her next book, Seeker of the Crown, comes out in 2018.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Handbook for Dragon Slayers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013) by Merrie Haskell may be a middle grade fantasy, but I think teens will like it too. (My husband did as well.)
Princess Tilda wishes people would “appreciate the sense of my words and not be thinking about the shape of my foot at the same time.” She’s the lame heir, so when her cousin Ivo comes to take over Alder Brook, she thinks it might be better for her people to have an able-bodied leader. And maybe this would give her the chance to write her own book. But somehow she and her friend Parz and her handmaiden Judith go off to become dragon slayers. Throw in the Wild Hunt, magic horses the color of the three royal metals, an evil lord, and it’s quite an adventure.
This book won the 2014 Schneider Family Book Award (Middle Grades).
On Merrie’s website FAQ page, there’s this question and answer:
What is it about fairy tales that interests you?
How infinite the variations on them can be! I’ve loved retold fairy tales since Robin McKinley’s Beauty (and later, Rose Daughter).
I recommended one of her other books, The Castle Behind the Thorns, here.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
I decided to read Iron Hearted Violet (Little, Brown and Company, 2012), one of Kelly Barnhill‘s earlier books, because of reading several recent ones.
Violet is not your average princess. First of all, she’s not beautiful. Even her eyes don’t match. But her people love her anyway. She’s an excellent story teller. Her only friend is a stable boy named Demetrius and the two often escape duties to run around the castle. One day they stumble on a forbidden book and Violet starts reading about the Nybbas, who is not ever to be mentioned. While her father is off hunting the first dragon that has been sighted in years, Violet’s mother gets very sick, and cracks start showing up in the castle. Will their world collapse?
Kelly recently won the Newbery medal so I figured it is only appropriate to link to an interview about her win. Here’s my recommendation of The Girl Who Drank the Moon in case you missed it.