Book review: “Vampire Mountain” by Darren Shan
Book Reviews / March 6, 2013

Young Darren, half-vampire assistant to Larten Crepsley, leaves the Cirque du Freak and follows his master on a gruelling trip through northern wastes to the hollow mountain where the vampire clan meets every twelve years. Though Mr. Crepsley resigned from being a vampire general long ago, he is treated with great respect, even by the princes who rule over the whole clan. But the tidings he brings, in the person of one of the spooky “Little People” who travel with the freak show, could shake the very foundations of vampire society. An enemy clan called the Vampaneze—blood-suckers who kill their human prey, giving all vampires a bad name—seems to threaten the more benign vampires with imminent destruction. And Mr. Crepsley’s decision to “blood” Darren at such a young age adds another level of danger.

Book review: “The Keys to the Demon Prison” by Brandon Mull
Book Reviews / March 6, 2013

It’s the fifth and final “Fablehaven” adventure, and the world is coming to an end. More of the world’s magical game preserves are falling to the Society of the Evening Star, which is collecting the five hidden talismans needed to open the demon prison of Zzyzx. Young Kendra and Seth Sorenson, along with their family and friends, are charged with protecting these powerful objects, and the five “Eternals” who must die before the bad guys can turn the key in the lock. But after a death-defying visit to the Australian preserve where the last artifact is housed, Seth is taken prisoner by the so-called Sphinx—actually a centuries-old Ethiopian slave who rebelled against his masters and now holds most of the keys to Zzyzx.

Book review: “Ironside” by Holly Black
Book Reviews / March 5, 2013

Subtitled “A Modern Faery’s Tale”, this companion-book to “Tithe” and “Valiant” brings back characters from the previous two books in a climactic tale of magic, romance, court intrigue, and hard-hitting action. Once again, the Bright and Night Courts of Faerie collide against the urban backdrop of New York City and its down-and-out New Jersey suburbs. Once again, a spotlight shines on the spine-chilling side of fey creatures—the child-stealing, pain-dealing, backstabbing, amoral side of beings that are just like sociopathic killers except that they are unnaturally beautiful, they can’t endure the touch of iron, and they cannot lie. Fun, right?

Book review: “Maggot Moon” by Sally Gardner
Book Reviews / February 23, 2013

Standish Treadwill sees the world differently, through his one blue eye and one brown, the letters dancing around in a dyslexic swirl. Yet it is his steadfast Gramps and his wonderful friend Hector who encourage him to continue fighting for all that makes him different. Against the backdrop of the harsh regime of the Motherland, with the help of a small band of rebels, Standish observes and questions and refuses to let the Greenflies stop him. And what exactly is going on with that moon landing propaganda?

Book review: “Noughts and Cross” by Malorie Blackman
Book Reviews / February 12, 2013

Critically acclaimed author, Malorie Blackman, tackles issues of race in this reversing of segregation in an alternate dystopian landscape of England in the 1960s. Persephone (Sephy) Hadley is a dark-skinned Cross and daughter of a successful politician. Her childhood friend, Callum, is a Nought with light skin, and his Mother is a former employee of the Hadleys as Sephy’s Nanny. When tensions rise, secrets are revealed, and Callum’s Mother Meggie is fired from her position in the household, the friends struggle to maintain their relationship despite the harsh judgement of those who cannot understand their connection.

Book review: “Spirits in the Park” by Scott Mebus
Book Reviews / February 12, 2013

In Book 2 of the trilogy titled “Gods of Manhattan”—which started with the book by the same name—young Rory Hennessy takes big strides toward fulfilling his destiny as the last surviving Light in the city, county, and state of New York. This sentence immediately confronts me with the problem that there is so much to explain, just so you can understand what I’m talking about as I try to describe this book, that I could very well say, “Read no further until you have read “Gods of Manhattan”.” There’s a lot to be said for doing so. This trilogy is really a most unique fantasy concept, and its complex layering of magical problems and solutions bears witness to a lot of intricate planning on its author’s part.

Book review: “So You Want to Be a Wizard” by Diane Duane
Book Reviews / January 29, 2013

Nita (full name, Juanita Callahan) is a bookish, 13-year-old girl living with her florist father, her ex-dancer mother, and her younger sister Dairine in a Long Island suburb of New York City. She constantly gets beaten up by schoolyard bullies and doesn’t know what to do about it. One day, while fleeing from a confrontation with her nemesis Joanne, Nita finds sanctuary in the children’s section of a public library. There, on a shelf full of career-advice books like “So You Want to Be a Doctor…a Writer…”and so on, she finds a book that just has to be a joke: “So You Want to Be a Wizard.”

Book review: “The Cockatrice Boys” by Joan Aiken
Book Reviews / January 29, 2013

This story is about an invasion of monsters that brings civilization in Great Britain crashing down. These creatures, of unknown origin, come in many varieties from bycorns, footmonsters, kelpies, and trolls to snarks, gorgons, basilisks, and telepods–this is only a partial listing, mind you. Nevertheless, they are grouped under the general term of Cockatrices, and it is to battle the Cockatrices that the Cockatrice Corps is formed. Armed with snark masks, kelpie knives, and ray guns, they set out on the stellar-powered armored train Cockatrice Belle to battle the beasties and bring needed supplies to the scattered remnants of the British race.

Book review: “Perloo the Bold” by Avi
Book Reviews / January 29, 2013

The author of “Tales from Dimwood Forest” brings us this intriguing fantasy novel for the young. Two tribes have been at war, on and off, as far back as history remembers: the rabbit-like Montmers and the coyote-like Felbarts. Among the few Montmers who know anything about this history, is bookish, shy Perloo. But when the old Granter of the Montmers is on her deathbed, she decides to elevate Perloo to be her successor…instead of her ambitious son Berwig.

Book review: “Snakehead” by Anthony Horowitz
Book Reviews / January 28, 2013

Alex Rider, Britain’s leading fourteen-year-old spy—more or less James Bond with zits—has survived a lot in only a few fast-paced months. He has been gunned down by an assassin and lived to tell. He has blown up a luxury hotel in outer space. He has even survived a feature-film adaptation that flopped at the box office.