The Children's Book Dragons of 2009

2009 was an excellent year for dragons in children's books!

For younger readers, the dragon highlight of the year was Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon. Part graphic book, part straight easy-reader narrative, it's the delightful story of a young dragon child and his underwater adventure (my review).

I've heard good things about the Dragons of Wayward Crescent, an easy reader series, the latest book of which Gruffen, by Chris D'lacey, came out this year. This is high on my list of books to be offered to my younger son.

Moving on to middle grade--
There are two books this year that features princesses nicknamed Meg and their young dragon friends, and I liked both lots-- The Runaway Dragon, by Kate Coombs (my review) and The Dragon of Trelian, by Michelle Knudsen. Both are lightly written (in a pleasantly diverting way). I slightly favor The Runaway Dragon, with its many nods toward fairy tale tropes and its more pronounced humor, but both are excellent books to put into the hands of a young fantasy lover. Particularly if her name is Meg.The Dragons of Ordinary Farm, by Tad Williams and Deborah Beale. A brother and a sister are sent off to spend the summer at their great uncle's farm. They are amazed when they find the farm is anything but ordinary--it is home to all manner of mythical creatures, including dragons...the reader might be less amazed, but fans of Fablehaven should like this one.

And speaking of which, here's Brandon Mull talking about the new book in that series, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary: "I think book 4 is my favorite so far. It might be because I’m a big fan of dragons. To me, they are the coolest, most iconic magical creature. We’ve only seen one dragon in the Fablehaven series so far, briefly, in book 3. Book 4 has lots of dragons, some fun twists and turns, and a bunch of great action." (From an interview at Cool Kids Read).

Dragon Spear, by Jessica Day George, is the third and final book of a series that began with the charming Dragon Slippers. This story takes places on an island far out to sea, where a strange and stunted tribe of dragons is hatching sinister plots. I enjoyed this one quite a bit--so often dragon books have just one Dragon, whereas this series allows them to be social beings, with interesting ramifications and opportunities for draconic characterization. It wraps up the series in a very satisfying way, and is a good read on its own account.

Timothy and the Dragon's Gate, by Adrienne Kress, is a completely different take on dragons. An extremely unlikeable boy, who overuses the word "whatever," finds himself the keeper of a dragon who has been forced to assume human form. Now Timothy has to get the dragon back to China...foiling various bad guys in the process. Fans of Kress' previous book, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, will doubtless be delighted to meet Alex again when she shows up halfway through the book; those of us who haven't read that book might wonder just what is going on.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is a lovely book, beautifully written and illustrated, and although things Happen, they don't happen in a charging ahead action above all else way. On a quest to save her family from starvation, a young Chinese girl befriends a dragon who longs to be able to fly. But pitted against them is an evil and greedy enemy...(my review).

Kira (Shadow of the Dragon), by Kate O'Hearn, is a draconic adventure of the medievally type. A brave girl and her little sister find themselves fugitives, living in the shadow of a dragon's lair, after their farm is laid waste and their family imprisoned by henchmen of an evil king. But when the oldest sister forms a bond with a baby dragon, and the younger sister begins to develop her own gifts of magic, they might have a chance to save the kingdom. Although this is a fast-paced story about two smart and brave girls (always a good thing), I have a few reservations. The Bad King and his Bad henchman were a bit too bad--they laid the kingdom so very waste that it stretched the limits of my credulity. And I was disturbed by the violence at the end--the little sister, only 8 years old, turns into a ruthless killer, shooting guards right and left and urging the dragon on to kill them.

Spit Fyre, the dragon of Septiums Heap, made another, quite extensive, appearance in Syren, book five of that series, by Angie Sage. I am rather fond of Spit Fyre, especially his suspicion that Marica is his Dragon Mother.

A dragon book I have yet to read is City of Fire, by Laurence Yep, which features dragons and sounds most intriguing. And 2009 saw the release of the fourth book of Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon series--Dragon's Heart (also on my to-be-read list). Incidentally, this is the only Young Adult dragon book I know of--teenagers got zombies and fairies and vampires and lots of other miscellaneous un-alive people.

I'm sure there were lots of dragon picture books too--if anyone has any favorites, please share!

(note: I received review copies of the following books as a result of my participation in the Cybils Awards: Dragon Spear, Timothy and the Dragon's Gate, Where the Mountains Meet the Moon; I received a review copy of Shadow of the Dragon from its publisher, Kane Miller. I've tried to set up the Amazon links to benefit the Cybils, who will, if I did it right, receive any commissions earned).


Wishing for Tomorrow, by Hilary McKay--the sequel to A Little Princess

I have just finished reading Wishing for Tomorrow, by Hilary McKay, and I want to read it again. And quite possibly again. I feel rather dizzy with book love...and so very very happy that McKay wrote this book and that I got it for Christmas.

At the end of A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1904), Sara Crewe got a Happy Ending, and Becky got to ride on her coat-tails. But the other students of Miss Minchen's Academy--Lavinia, Lottie, Ermengarde and all-- were left stuck there in dismal-ness.

Now they have been freed, and given stories and endings of their own.

And very satisfyingly too.

Wishing for Tomorrow is told from Ermengarde's point of view--poor lumpish Ermengarde for whom Sara's departure was hardest (and who Burnett seems to have regarded simply as a foil for Sara's relentless perfection). Now she gets a chance to be a person in her own right, and I love her. And Lavinia (the mean and snottie one), Lottie (the rascally little one), and even Miss Minchen herself come alive, in ways that Burnett, with her "Sara as be all and end all" approach to things, never let happen. I never thought I would care about Lavinia, or even, heaven forbid, Miss Minchen, but now I do...

If you love The Little Princess, I bet you will enjoy this book. It stays true to that story, while giving it (and I know this is a cliche, but so what) new life. If you love Hilary McKay, you won't be disappointed either--there is the humor and detail and love for the characters that makes her books favorites of mine. And if you don't have strong feelings about either, this is still a book that those who love character-driven books (especially books about girls at school) will enjoy.

If, one the other hand, you don't like character-driven books about girls of long ago where very little Happens, you probably won't like it that much.

Wishing for Tomorrow has been out for a couple of months already in the UK and Australia (Hodder 313 pp), and comes out here in the US from Margaret K. McElderry on January 5, 2010. Here is the US cover. I prefer the UK one, which I have because my sister went the extra mile (literally)--thank you so much, Emily! The US one looks a bit too sweetly pretty for my taste.

Here's another review, from Nayu's Reading Corner, and another from a 12 year-old reader at Chicklish. Neither of them loved it as much as I did. But here's a third review that's after my own heart, from So Many Books...(with several great quotes!)

And here's my own favorite quote (which Nayu also includes in her review, but which is so brilliant I have to have it too).

Ermengarde has begun to write long letters to Sara, who has asked her to keep an eye on Lottie:
'And so I went up and she was hopping around on one leg saying she was a flamingo and her prayer was:

Dear God
I think I would rather be the only
green flamingo in the world. Than pink.

Nothing happened to her! I am sure if I ever prayed a prayer like that I would be struck down dead.
I said this to Lottie.

'God is used to me,' said Lottie." (p 84)

The books I read in 2009 that I will always remember

I read lots and lots of books in 2009. Many of them were very good indeed, but I'm not particularly inclined to make a top ten list--some I liked for one reason, some for another, and it all gets complicated really really quickly. And I don't want to hurt the feelings of the books I don't include.

But I did find it rather easy to look through my blog posts from 2009, to find the books that I will always remember. These four books aren't my favorites of the year (although I liked them all), but they made such extraordinarily strong pictures in the mind that I will never forget them.

The Hotel Under the Sand, by Kage Baker (my post). It went down hill a bit when the guests arrived, but I will never ever forget the sand dunes, and the emergence of the hotel.

Ghost Town, by Richard Jennings (my post). It's not surprising that this one made such clear pictures in my mind--it's about pictures, after all. It is beautiful and haunting (and funny).

The Museum of Mary Child, by Cassandra Golds (my post). The museum itself is burned into my brain, and will be forever. This book also gave me pictures of an orphan girls' choir singing at Christmas in a gothic church, and lots of lovely doll clothes....

The Last Polar Bears, by Harry Horse (my post) The cold, the ice, the wolves, the humor of the little dog, the final journey. Sniff. (Even though I've read the sequels, I still refuse to believe that they made it home).

(I toyed with including Silksinger, by Laini Taylor (my review), in the list, because I have lots and lots of Silksinger pictures in my mind--when I call it up, I get flying carpets and dragonflys and eastern markets and threads untangling and underground caves and ice lace and oceans and... I feel overwhelmed. There are so many pictures that the emotional whommph (visually) becomes diffuse. Which isn't a criticism of the book at all, but more just a comment on the way my mind works. If you can call it "working.")

What books did you read in 2009 that made pictures in your head you'll never forget?


A place holding post, of interest to those who care for trees falling on houses, how many books I read for the Cybils, and tea-bags

Here is a picture of the Christmas tree Mother Nature sent my parents....the person standing on the tree has just been swung into place by the crane's cable. Mercifully none of the large branches that made it through the roof went through the ceiling of the room below. I wanted to put lights on it, but they wouldn't let me.

But the tree is gone now, and we are home again, and some of us got up this morning and were a bit at a loss--for the first morning in weeks, I didn't immediately start reading for the Cybils awards. The finalists have all been decided now, and will be announced January 1st. (Our middle grade science fiction and fantasy list is rather nice).

I read 96 out of 98 books, which is 25 less than I did last year. On the other hand, I have finally read the Percy Jackson series and the Septimus Heap series in their entirety and enjoyed them both very much. The 5th books of each were nominated this year, and I hadn't read the others (except 50 pages of Queste for the Cybils last year, which confused the heck out of me).

So anyway, the point of this post is to say that I don't have anything interesting bookwise to offer, but that, having read so many books recently, I have lots of reviews to write.

And then there all the books to be read, now that the Cybils are over--books that aren't middle grade science fiction/fantasy. I have just started No Impact Man: the adventures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet and the discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process, by Colin Beavan, which I am finding soothing.

Which in turn reminds me that no one got me the book I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas, even though I kept telling them that it would show us how to make ornaments out of used tea-bags. All of us thought it meant the bag you put in the water, and wondered (when you cinch the waist of a tea-bag, it doesn't look that much like angel-wings, and that was the only idea I had). But now I know they were talking about the paper wrapper part, which sets my mind at rest, a little.

(I didn't actually want it, anyway--I annoyed/gently educated my family just fine with the Green-ness I had on hand).


New releases of fantasy and science fiction for children and teenagers, the middle and end of December edition

Here are the new releases of fantasy and science fiction books for children and teenagers, from the middle to the end of December. There are many here that I'm looking forward too; in particular, I want The Ever Breath, by Julianna Baggott--when I read The Prince of Fenway Park for the Cybils, I added her to my mental list of "authors whose future books I will automatically read."

For nine to twelve year-olds:

A Different Day, A Different Destiny (The Snipesville Chronicles, Book 2), by Annette Laing. "When you wake up in the year 1851 on a Scottish hillside...Or in an English coal mine...Or on a plantation in the Deep South, you know you re in for a bad day. Nothing for Hannah and Alex Dias has been normal since they moved from San Francisco to the little town of Snipesville, Georgia. Bad enough that they and their dorky new friend Brandon became reluctant time-travellers to World War Two England. Oh, sure, they made it home safely (just) but now things are about to get worse. Much worse. From the cotton fields of the Slave South to London's glittering Crystal Palace, the kids chase a lost piece of twenty-first century technology in the mid-nineteenth century. But finding it is only the beginning of what they must do to heal Time."

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, by Jo Nesbo. "Nilly is new to the neighborhood, but he is quick to make friends: Doctor Proctor, an eccentric professor; and Lisa, who is teased by the twin terrors Truls and Trym. Nilly and Lisa help Doctor Proctor develop his latest invention, a powder that makes you fart. The powder makes Nilly and Lisa very popular at school when they sell it for fifty cents a bag. And they get revenge on Truls and Trym by giving them a dose of extra-strength fart powder that shoots them up into a tree. All is good farty fun. Until someone steals the industrial-strength fart powder -- which was supposed to make Doctor Proctor famous -- to use for evil purposes...."

The Ever Breath, by Julianna Baggott. "In a world where locust fairies flutter and firebreathers burst from snowbanks, two children are having the adventure of their lives. Truman and his twin sister, Camille, have just met their grandmother . . . and she’s a little strange. She whispers a tale about something called the Ever Breath, an amber orb that maintains the balance between our world and a dreamy one of imagination—and evil. Soon Truman and Camille find themselves in the Breath World, a magical place where ogres clash and a mouse holds the key to a mystery. Some creatures want to help them—and some want them D-E-A-D. That’s because the Ever Breath has been stolen, and an epic battle is raging to bring it safely back. Can the twins save not only one world—but two?"

Gamers' Quest, by George Ivanoff Tark and Zyra are teenaged thieves on a quest. In a world of magic and science, where dragons and mages exist alongside drones and lasers, they endeavor to reach the haven of Designers' Paradise. But their world is not what it appears to be and their haven is about to come under threat of destruction. Can Tark and Zyra save Designers' Paradise ... and their own world?

Hat Trick, by Jason M. Burns. "Hat Trick follows the adventures of Ray, a would-be magician who is introduced to a world of magic through his famous uncle's top hat. With the help of a few of the world's inhabitants, including a six-foot tall talking rabbit named Poof, Ray must uncover his true potential and defeat the evil that is enslaving the world."

I So Don't Do Spooky, by Barrie Summy. "Did you know that the main campus of the Academy of Spirits is at a Dairy Queen in Phoenix? Me either. Until now. Some weird stuff has been happening to my stepmother, Paula, and the Academy has asked me, Sherry Holmes Baldwin, to get to the bottom of it. They think someone’s trying to hurt her. I really don’t want to get involved—my life is way too busy. Josh and I are celebrating two blissful months of togetherness. And my best friend, Junie, is finally showing a teeny bit of interest in clothes and makeup after years of brainiac behavior. But being that my mom is a ghost and all, me, my brother, and my dad rely on Paula a lot. So it’s not like I can just ignore what’s going on. Especially since my mom is competing at the Ghostlympics. If she comes in first place, she earns five minutes of Real Time. And that means I’ve got to get involved in a creepy, freaky mystery."

The Jungle Vampire (Awfully Beastly Business), by Dave Sinden, Matthew Morgan, & Guy Macdonald. "Ulf the werewolf is training to become an official Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts (RSPCB) agent. His mission takes him to the jungle in search of a legendary jungle vampire. But the evil Baron Marackai is hot on his trail. Can Ulf and his friends find the vampire first? The future of the RSPCB depends on it...."

Lone Wolf (Wolves of the Beyond), by Kathryn Lasky. ''A wolf mother has given birth, but the warm bundle snuffling next to her brings only anguish. The pup, otherwise healthy, has a twisted leg, and the mother knows what the harsh code of the pack demands. Her pup will be taken from her and abandoned on a desolate hill. The pack cannot have weakness - the wolf mother knows that her pup is condemned to die.But alone in the wilderness, the pup, Faolan, does not perish. This his story - a story of survival, of courage, and of love triumphant. This is Faolan's story, the wolf pup who rose up to change forevever the Wolves of the Beyond."

Pathways to Adventure, by Sandra June Upchurch. "How Angie, Alexis, and James came to be in the same mysterious forest at the same time is as big a mystery to them as it is to anyone else. They soon find themselves entangled in bizarre, other-worldly encounters with talking animals, giant, predatory spiders, and numerous strange pathways, none of which seems to lead back home! Join these adolescents on their odd adventures as each new path they take leads them to some new and daunting challenge. Will they ever find their way back home? Find out in Pathways to Adventure."

Song #3 (The Mysterious Mr. Spines), by Jason Lethcoe. "The third and final book in this series. "Edward McLeod is almost at the end of his journey. He has battled his way through the afterlife, mastered his Guardian powers, and even learned how to fly. Now he must take on the Jackal and fight for all of the trapped souls in the Woodbine. But the Jackal and his formidable army will not be easy to defeat. Is Edward really the destined “Bridge Builder” or will he too fall to the Jackal’s evil forces?"

RuneWarriors: Sword of Doom, by James Jennewein & Tom S. Parker. "Can life get any worse for Dane the Defiant? The same villagers who once praised him for his courage in defeating Thidrek the Terrifying now blame him for everything that has gone wrong since then: The torrential downpours. The dwindling food supplies. Even the rampant outbreaks of armpit lice. Dane's deceased father would never have let things get so bad, the village elders say. But then Dane is summoned to the fortress of King Eldred, where he receives the final piece of his father's legacy: an ancient secret written in mysterious runes that leads to no less than the treasure of the gods. But the treasure, he learns, is cursed, and his mother is kidnapped. And so, braving an army of angry trolls and warring frost giants (and other fantastic creatures there isn't space here to describe), Dane and his friends must decipher the cryptic clues and embark on a quest to find the enchanted treasure and save her life. Oh, and all the while battling ultimate evil. Can Dane be the hero he has always wanted to be? Or will he fall prey to the curse and betray those he loves?

A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup. "The three Cheeseman children, their father, and their psychic dog are all on the run. From whom? Well the CIA, naturally. But also corporate agents #5, #29, and # 207, plus two international superspies -- one of whom happens to be a chimpanzee. They all want Dr. Cheeseman and his late wife's greatest invention–a machine with unspeakable powers–OK, I'll say it. It's a time machine. But it's not working right yet, so put all ideas of time travel out of your head. Instead, please enjoy this high stakes, high action, hijinx-filled chase, and the bizarre characters our Cheeseman friends will meet as they protect not just their parents' invention, but their mother's sacred memory. It's an adventure novel like no other."

Young Adult:

The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain. ''Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared--the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood--but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held. The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.
The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it--her soul.''

Dark Hunter (Villain.net), by Andy Briggs. ''When a mysterious benefactor springs him from Diablo Island penitentiary, Jake Hunter is back on the run, trying to locate the man who wiped out his family’s memories of him and dodging the efforts of the hero Chameleon to track him down. Unfortunately, his benefactor wants something in return—for Jake to kidnap the president of the United States. Sure, Jake’s the most powerful supervillain on earth, but will the ordinary schoolkid in him be up to the deadly challenge? Dark Hunter is an action-packed adventure, full of even more dastardly villains and exciting showdowns and intricately linked to the anti-series, Hero.com.''

Darklight (Wondrous Strange), by Lesley Livingston. ''Faerie can't lie . . . or can they? Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was a Faerie princess, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved the mortal realm from the ravages of the Wild Hunt. Now Kelley is stuck in New York City, rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and missing Sonny more with every stage kiss, while Sonny has been forced back to the Otherworld and into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the remaining Hunters and Queen Mabh herself. When a terrifying encounter sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful but destined to be cut short. An ancient, hidden magick is stirring, and a dangerous new enemy is willing to risk everything to claim that power. Caught in a web of Faerie deception and shifting allegiances, Kelley and Sonny must tread carefully, for each next step could topple a kingdom . . . or tear them apart.''

Fallen, by Lauren Kate. "There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her."

Hearts at Stake: The Drake Chronicles, by Alyxandra Harvey-Fitzhenry. ''On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family. Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart.''

Magic Under Glass, by Jaclyn Dolamore. ''Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

My Soul to Save (Harlequin Teen), by Rachel Vincent. "When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies. So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul. The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand. Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk…."

Stupid Cupid, by Rhonda Stapleton. ''Felicity's no ordinary teen matchmaker...she's a cupid! Felicity Walker believes in true love. That's why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid's Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn't just a matchmaker...she's a cupid! (There's more than one of them, you know.) Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired?and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three.''

Virus Attack (Hero.com), by Andy Briggs. ''The villain Basilisk is back, and his nefarious plan to infiltrate Hero.com and take it offline has worked—leaving Toby, Pete, Lorna, and Emily as the only Downloaders left on the planet! It’s up to the four friends to stop Basilisk before his computer virus completely destroys the Hero Foundation . . . but with glitchy, short-circuiting powers and some contention among their ranks, it’ll be no simple task to outwit, outpace, and outplot the evil mastermind. Virus Attack is an action-packed adventure, full of even more creative and exciting powers and intricately linked to the anti-series, Villian.net.''

The Shadow Project, by Herbie Brennan. ''Danny Lipman is a thief . . . until one night he robs the wrong house. He inadvertently breaks into the headquarters of the Shadow Project, a secret government organization where teenage spies are trained to leave their bodies, using astral projection to travel around the world on deadly missions. Danny is captured, but the Project leaders quickly realize he has a special gift. And when a key operative—the director's daughter, Opal—goes missing, he is offered a choice: join the Shadow Project or go to jail.''

Witch & Wizard, by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet. "The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they'd never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents--and maybe the world?"

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