Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of February releases in science fiction, urban fantasy, and epic fantasy. Today’s column examines new releases in YOUNG ADULT PARANORMAL.
The Symptoms: “Cute-new-boy-in-school-has-secrets,” “I-have-to-go-to-paranormal-academy” and “hey-I-have-new-weird-powers” tales continue their march toward literary domination.
The Diagnosis: Twenty-three new YA paranormals crush on March, including four stories of visions and curses, two cases of magical objects leading to new worlds, and several incidents of “Oops—I’m a (fill in the blank here with mermaid, demon, etc.).”
The Cure: Just a few precautions. Don’t pick up weird stuff on the beach, leave the new boy alone, and that whole bit about running off to Faerie? Not a good idea.
Three years ago, Persia ran away from her drug-addict parents and found a home with the Outlaws, an underground theater troupe. This motley band of mortals and fey, puppeteers and actors, becomes the loving family Persia never had, and soon she not only discovers a passion for theater but also falls in love with Nicholas, one of the other Outlaws. Life could not be more perfect—until an enemy with a grudge makes an unfair accusation against the group and forces them to flee the mortal world and hide in the neighboring realm of Faerie. But in Faerie, all is not flowers and rainbows—with bloodthirsty trolls, a hostile monarchy, and a dangerous code of magic, the fey world is not quite the safe haven the Outlaws had hoped for. And they must decide what’s more important: protecting their right to perform or protecting themselves.
Lili, an apprentice of the Lady of the Lake, is the childhood friend of Percy, the boy who will become one of Arthur’s greatest knights. But as they grow older, Lili begins to see their differences. She has otherworldly magic while he has the magic that lives within the human heart. Lili dreams of knowing human love while Percy dreams of finding the Holy Grail. Neither can succeed without the other. Crompton weaves together nature, feminist perspective, and Arthurian legend into a tale for all ages.
When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth? Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s both a gift and a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case, but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then her brother, who has supernatural gifts of his own, becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the map. Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves—which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers. But once she arrives, she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends are demons too.
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before—not around town, but in her dreams. As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. And when she discovers what Haden truly is, she’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.
May feels her life drying up. The sea calls to her, but her parents forbid her from swimming. She longs for books, but her mother finds her passion for learning strange. She yearns for independence, but a persistent suitor, Rudd, wants to tame her spirited ways. Yet after her fifteenth birthday, the urge to break free becomes overpowering and May makes a life-changing discovery. She does not belong on land where girls are meant to be obedient. She is a mermaid. But not everyone is pleased with May’s transformation. Rudd decides that if can’t have May, no one will. He knows how to destroy her happiness and goes to drastic measures to ensure that May loses everything: her freedom and the only boy she’s ever loved. This is the second in Lasky’s Daughters of the Sea quartet.
Dark Mirror, by Mary Jo Putney (March 1, St. Martin’s Griffin)
Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status. Yet Tory has a shameful secret—one so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted by magic. When a accident forces her to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society. But Tory’s life is about to change forever. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth.
Adam has more than inherited his mother’s curse: When he looks in someone’s eyes, he not only sees the date of their death—he feels the searing, shocking pain of it. Since Jem died, Adam has lived by the sea with his great-grandmother, Val. But when rising tides flood the coast, they return to London. The city is an alien, exciting, frightening place. Most disturbing of all, Adam can’t help but clock how many people’s numbers are in January 2027; how many are on New Year’s Day. What chaos awaits the world? Can he and Sarah stop a catastrophe? Or are they, too, counted among the “twenty-sevens”? Second in the Numbers series.
It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.
It’s been a year since Ivy’s boyfriend, Tristan, died. They’ve both moved on—Tristan to the other side of the afterlife, and Ivy to sweet, dependable Will. Now Ivy’s heading to Cape Cod, hoping to leave the horror of last summer behind. She wants nothing more than to lie on the beach, sip lemonade, and hang out with her friends. But then a car crash ends Ivy’s life. As she floats to the beyond, looking down on the life she’s left behind, Tristan breathes life back into her with a passionate kiss. She wakes up in the hospital, surrounded by Will and her family, but all she can think about is the love that she lost. But memories aren’t all that’s come back from the past. And this time, Ivy’s not sure love will be enough to save her.
Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate transforms Bianca into a wraith and Lucas into a vampire—the very creature he spent his life hunting—they are left reeling. Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help: Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him, but with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her ghostly transformation has given her. A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They’ve overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges after life?
Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she’s outgrown that kind of fantasy—until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls into that other world. Suddenly, the line between fantasy and reality isn’t so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each seems to have an idea about her—that she’s a hero, a villain, or dinner.
Humanity, like computers, can be upgraded. And old versions disappear. At some unspecified point in the future, when technology is as advanced as possible and we are a race of super beings, some old audio tapes are discovered. On the tapes is the story of 14-year-old Kyle Straker. Hypnotized, Kyle missed the upgrade of humanity to 1.0. He isn’t compatible with our new technology. And through the recording, he narrates what the upgrades really mean—and it’s absolutely terrifying.
With the help of charming and devious Damon, Elena rescued her vampire love, Stefan, from the depths of the Dark Dimension. But neither brother returned unscathed. Stefan is weak from his long imprisonment and needs more blood than Elena alone can give him, while a strange magic has turned Damon into a human. Savage and desperate, Damon will do anything to become a vampire again—even travel back to hell. But what will happen when he accidentally takes Bonnie with him? Expected to be the last of the Vampire Diaries franchise that will be penned by Smith.
It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her. This was the tip of a rapier. Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure. The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate’s life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.
Before Briony’s stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family’s hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it’s become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment. Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He’s as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she’s extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn’t know.
The gutsy heroine of Possessions and The Evil Within returns for another year of boarding school at the haunted Marlwood Academy. Lindsay wakes to find herself strapped down in the infirmary. She had a breakdown and might have tried to kill her nemesis Mandy or Mandy’s boyfriend, Troy—or both. The details are hazy, but one thing is certain: she is possessed by a spirit she cannot trust. Lindsay soon realizes that nowhere on campus is safe. Then, she finds a surprising ally in her former rival. Together, Lindsay and Mandy must figure out who can be trusted, and who wants them dead.
New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will. But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone—or something—has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.
By age 16, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems.
Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul. His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to do things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing (but is) has secrets that terrify him. But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them.
Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap. Her parents are getting a divorce. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out. Her grandmother died and now Kylie’s acquired a stalker. Unfortunately, she’s the only one who seems to be able to see the stalker, which gets her sent to a psychologist, who in turn sends her to Shadow Falls Camp. Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens. They thought wrong. It’s a camp of supernaturals: vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shape shifters. And if she believes the camp leader, Kylie is one of them, too.
Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhereelse. It’s what her dead mother’s note suggested,and it’s what her recurring nightmares allude to. Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams—and her small town—she accepts a spot at a boardingschool in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse. But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?
In a secret supernatural battle that’s been raging for over a century, the stakes have just been raised—and they’re not wooden anymore. When Jamie Carpenter’s mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government’s most secret agency. Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can’t stand up against.
Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is annoyed that she’s far past sixteen and still hasn’t discovered her secret powers. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.