So I was lucky enough to get my hands on Lisa's epic new fantasy, due for release on February 2, 2016. You can also preorder it here.
From “talented wordsmith” (Publishers Weekly) Lisa Maxwell comes a lush, atmospheric fantasy novel filled with twists and turns about a girl who is kidnapped and brought to an island inhabited by fairies, a roguish ship captain, and bloodthirsty beasts.
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.
But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…
Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.
Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?
The bottom line? If you like your fairytales enchantingly dark and achingly romantic, then Unhooked needs to be at the top of your TBR list for 2016. The story grabbed me by the nightie on page one and didn't let go. It's been a long time since two characters have burrowed so completely under my skin; yes, we're talking about the kind of love story that haunts you for days afterwards. Lisa Maxwell expertly flips the traditional Pan story on its head, so be warned: these are not the one-dimensional hero/villain/damsel in distress roles you remember from childhood.
I don't want to give a lot of spoilers, so I'll just say that in the end, what makes this a great book is not the lyrical writing, or the heart-pounding action, or the clever plot twists, or the deep world-building, although it has all of those things. In the end, it's always the people we remember, the things they teach us about what it means to be human (sorry if that sounds corny, but it's just true). So this is a story about love and magic and dreams, but also friendship - girl friendship, thank you! - and family and forgiveness and a lot of other things.
I had high expectations going into it after reading Sweet Unrest and Gathering Deep, and was not disappointed. As a side note, I happen to have a thing for pictures of ships (my bedroom is like a nautical theme park), so I swooned over the gorgeous cover. This is a book begging for a sequel. I am, at least!
Sitting here with crusty grey snow still piled outside my window, I've come to believe that the only redeeming value of late March (especially if you live in the U.S. Northeast) is the anticipation of reading all the sequels you've been dying for and the excitement of discovering brand-new favorite authors.
So in no special order, here are 11 YA's I'm looking forward to in 2015. Hopefully, there's something for everyone.
The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die series #2), by Danielle Paige. I'm a HUGE fan of the Oz books; I must have read them all six or seven times each as a kid. They were just…yeah. I'm a total Oz nerd. And this series could have been a disaster.
But Danielle Paige pulls it off. She not only pulls it off, she makes you laugh and shriek and fall in love with Amy Gumm and have nightmares about some of your most (previously) beloved characters. Happily, there's a bunch of prequel novellas out now that you can read while you're waiting for the March 30 release of the next in this fab series.
The Alex Crow, by Andrew Smith. Since reading the genre-smashing masterpiece that is Grasshopper Jungle, I will buy anything at all that Andrew decides to write, ever. Nuff said.
And in fact, I just scored a signed copy last weekend when I caught the brilliant author himself at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, woot!
(Available March 3, so what are you waiting for?)
Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard. I see it on a lot of lists, I love the creepy cover, and the class warfare storyline sounds intriguing.
I'm a sucker for a good, juicy fantasy, and Sam Hawksmoor describes this one as a "mash up of Ancient Rome and Marie Antoinette with a dash of Catherine Fisher's Incarceron and Ridley Scott's Gladiator, not to mention some of Marvel Comic's box of tricks..." Count me in.
(Out as of February 10!)
Brazen (Gilded series #3), by Christina Farley. This won't be hitting bookshelves until September 29, and the wait will doubtless be agonizing for Farley's legions of fans. The Gilded series is so unique and well-written, blending Korean mythology with action and romance and fantastic, finely-drawn characters. No cover yet, but if it's anything like the first two, we're in for something luminous and very special. I'm pre-ordering as soon as that link goes live.
Gathering Deep (Sweet Unrest series #2), by Lisa Maxwell. If you drool at the thought of digging into a spicy gumbo of voodoo and New Orleans and mystery and Gothic thrills, you've hit the jackpot with this awesome series (unlike my painful mixed metaphors).
The absolutely beautiful cover was just unveiled last month. Expected pub date: October 8.
Six of Crows (The Dregs series #1), by Leigh Bardugo. Confession: I haven't yet read the Grisha Trilogy, mostly because my TBR pile is such a tottering skyscraper. If it had eyes, it would be glaring at me accusingly.
But the series has been reviewed so highly, and sounds so like my bag, that I'm definitely grabbing it. Six of Crows isn't out until October 6 so there's plenty of time to catch up on Bardugo's earlier work.
Half Wild, (The Half Bad trilogy, series #2), by Sally Green. I loved the first one so hard, with its nonexistent moral distinction between the white and black witches, and the tough as nails, dead sexy boy narrator. Green's style is clean and pared down to the essentials, with pacing that just doesn't stop. I think I read the first one in a single sitting.
The new cover is extremely similar, but who cares? They're both super cool.
None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio. I adore unconventional narrators who reflect the nuances and complexities of the real world, and this story about an intersex teen sounds like it achieves the one thing I think great fiction does better than any other art form: opening your mind to the direct experiences of another person who sees the world differently than you do.
Pub date: April 7.
The Girl at Midnight, by Melissa Grey. This also comes out in April. All I know is that it's set beneath the streets of New York City and has magic and some ancient race called the Avicen. For some reason, I just love subterranean adventure stories (Neverwhere, anyone?), and I grew up in Manhattan, so this hits all my buttons.
The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma. If you enjoy lyrical and dark and moving, with strong, complex female characters, Nova's for you. And it's out as of yesterday!
The Last Star (Fifth Wave series #3), by Rick Yancey. This now has a cover and pub date: September 8.
I'm so, so excited for this sequel from Lisa Maxwell, and the cover is just perfect: dark, Gothic and intriguing, but kind of beautiful too, just like her books.
Odd little coincidence: the last name of her Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveaux, is the same as the main character's in the very first book I ever wrote (and never published, but that landed me my agent). She too traced her ancestry to Louisiana...
Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! Lisa's offering up a signed copy of SWEET UNREST, voodoo doll keychain, and $20 gift card to the bookstore of your choice.
Anyway, here it is!
Gorge, yes? We're looking at a pub date of October 8th, but this one is already at the top of my list for 2015. Here's the synopsis:
Chloe Sabourin's world was turned upside down three times over when she learned that the unspeakable murders in her native New Orleans—the ones that nearly claimed the life of her friend Lucy—were committed by Chloe's own mother, who is in reality the dark witch Thisbe. Moving on from that is the toughest thing she's ever had to do.
Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again. Chloe seeks help from the mysterious Mama Legba, even though she's unsure whether she can trust the Voodoo Queen. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, all signs point to Thisbe, and Chloe must quickly learn all she can from Mama Legba to save the one person she has left...even if that means bringing down her own mother.
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