Nominations for the upcoming Cybils season start on October 1 (which I find just tremendously exciting, even though I am sad that I am never awake right when the starting line happens, and when I do wake up, other people have beaten me to my best loved books....). However, some of us just happen to have little shelves next to our computers on which there sit books received for review from Cybils past...there are just so many of them to read and review (150ish in mg sff last year) that one can't do them all during the fall. And then after the Cybils, I kind of want to catch up on everything else I missed while reading the past year's mg sff....and so every year a few books that I really enjoyed and wanted to review end up gathering dust.
So today, with mingled thanks and apologies to the publishers who sent these books to me, I am Catching Up.
These two books are perfect for the intelligent, quirky girl reader (although if an intelligent boy were to read them, he'd probably like them too).
Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus, by R. L. La Fevers (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) . You might recognize the name of the author--she's just made a big splash with Grave Mercy, a top notch YA historical fantasy. But before that, she wrote two lovely mg serieses--Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist, and the Theodosia series. The titular heroine of the later series is a 19th century Egyptologist, who practically lives in the London museum of Egyptian antiquities run by her parents. Theodosia has a preternatural sensitivity to Egyptian magic (which involves lots of nasty curses), which gets her into trouble on more than one occasion, but which also allows her to save the day when bad guys want to steal priceless magical artifacts and use them for nefarious purposes....
Theodosia is smart and appealing, there are lots of interesting side characters, and the Egyptian magical side of things is fascinating (even for those of us who aren't particularly fond of Egyptian fantasy).
This is the third of the series; you can read about all four books here.
Unearthly Asylum, by P.J. Pracegirldle (The Joy of Spooking, Book 2)
Here's another somewhat overlooked series that features a smart girl with a mission. In this series, Joy Wells is determined to prove that famous horror writer E.A. Peugeot lived in her home village of Spooking, using it as fodder for his stories. And Spooking, barely clinging to any semblance of habitable village-ness, and home to a really really sinister asylum, certainly offers fodder aplenty.
When Joy starts hearing what she assumes are the guns of long dead stories, as described in a Peugot story coming from the asylum, she's determined to get to the bottom of what exactly is going on behind its locked gates. What she unravels is a horror story of madness and greed...
If you are looking for a series to give to the ten or eleven year old girl who loves mysteries and scary stories, with smart and eccentric heroines, the three books in the Joy of Spooking series are pretty perfect.
(and just a small rant--I hate you new blogger. I hate that I cannot easily make these two book covers the same size. grrr.).