Friday, July 3, 2009

Fantastic Reads!

Today I give you a list (complete with mini reviews) of Children's and Young Adult Fantasy Books I Love (in No Particular Order). So, here you go:

Children's and Young Adult Fantasy Books I Love (in No Particular Order):

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine


I discovered this book at the library as a kid, and have reread it multiple times over the years. Unlike the movie version that shares the same name (the movie was sorta cute in its own way, but the book is about ten thousand times better and completely different), Ella Enchanted is a quirky, imaginative, and touching re-telling of the Cinderella story. Complete with fairies, curses, masked balls, adventure, and ridiculously-adorable-romance-by-letter.


Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith


An old favorite—pretty sure I could quote the entire thing from beginning to end. Originally published in two separate volumes (Crown Duel and Court Duel), this book chronicles the history of the spunky Meliara, Countess of Tlanth, from her role in a misguided war to her noble (but equally misguided) attempts at unraveling the multi-layred intrigue at the royal court. Complete with battles, dashing and mysterious members of the aristocracy (swoon), secret admirers, squee-worthy-Jane-Austen-esque-romance, and a fabulously satisfying ending.


Beauty: a Retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast, by Robin McKinley


Another old favorite, this gorgeous retelling of my favorite fairy tale is as touching as it is beautiful. Last time I re-read it, I got all teary, so you know it must be good. :-)


Jackaroo, by Cynthia Voigt


Another old favorite, Jackaroo is not quite fantasy in the traditional sense, as it contains no magical elements, but in my mind it still totally counts. It's a medieval-esque adventure-romance set in an invented land called simply "the kingdom," and tells the story of Gwen, an innkeeper's daughter, who happens upon the clothes of an infamous folk hero crammed in the back of a cupboard... Full of gritty details and touching realism, this story has a wonderful ending that you don't quite expect.


East, by Edith Pattou


A more recent favorite, East is a retelling of the lesser-known fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which is sort of a mixture of Beauty and the Beast and the Cupid and Psyche myth. This is a gorgeous book, told in alternating first person points of view, which in some cases can be annoying, but in this case works marvelously. It's about a girl named Rose, and a White Bear under an enchantment, and an evil Troll Queen, and an epic journey North... Beautiful and gripping; first time through I read it all in a day.


The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner


Another semi-recent discovery. I first read The Thief on the plane en route to Michigan for a friend's wedding a few years ago, and devoured Queen and King shortly thereafter (I've read all three twice more since then). These are the kinds of books where the least amount of info you know going into them, the better you'll enjoy them. Which makes them kinda hard to review. I'll just leave it at:
  1. Well-drawn and realistic world inspired by ancient Greece
  2. Ridiculously intricate and clever plotting—with surprise twists and turns galore
  3. Fascinating characters
  4. Equally fascinating relationships.
Basically, read them NOW. You won't be sorry.


Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones


Tragically enough, I didn't discover this wonderful book until last December. I've already read it twice. Basically, Sophie works in a hat shop, gets turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste, and becomes a cleaning lady for the heartless Wizard Howl. Filled with delightfully quirky characters, a rollicking (and complicated) plot, and deliciously amusing chapter titles (like "In Which Sophie Talks to Hats" and "In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime"). This is the kind of book that, once you get to the end, you want to turn back to page one and read all over again.


Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale


I know I mentioned this book a while back when I'd first read it, but it bears mentioning again! Based on a lesser-known fairy tale, Book of a Thousand Days tells the story of lady's maid Dashti and her Lady Saren, who get shut up in a tower for seven years because Saren refuses to marry the suitor chosen for her. The prose is beautiful and rhythmic, the plot fascinating--and surprising!--and the characters well-drawn. A great, great book.


Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce


A very recent addition to my list of favorites, Curse Dark as Gold is a compelling reworking of Rumplestiltskin. It follows the story of Charlotte Miller, a young woman struggling to save her family's mill. When she accepts the help of the mysterious Jack Spinner, who can spin straw into gold, she fights against the idea of the old family curse, afraid of what it might ultimately cost her. As well as the gorgeous prose, great characters, adorable romance, and chilling fantastical elements, one of the neat things about this book is the attention given to detail; it almost reads like historical fiction set during the industrial revolution, and one really gets the feel for life in a woolen mill. A fascinating and intriguing read.

3 comments:

marianas said...

ooh yay! two of these I haven't read. *adds them to the list*

Gamwyn said...

Nice, which two??

silent_librarian said...

Hoorah! I have read all of these except for A Book of a Thousand Days, which is on my list. East is probably my favorite of all of them. That one was a beautiful love story that overcomes all things. I really loved the characters! It was just awesome. Jackaroo is another favorite, but I have sort of forgotten it since I read it many, many years ago.