Wed
Sep 29 2010 5:39pm

Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October Releases in Young Adult Paranormal Fiction

Fiction Affliction is a new 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 on fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. Today’s column examines YOUNG ADULT PARANORMAL FICTION.

The Symptoms: Emo teens are waking up with odd powers, like the ability to determine who gets pregnant, or as one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Good thing, because after going through the mysterious door/curtain/window of their secretly magical school, they must do battle with an odd assortment of creatures, including goblins, gargoyles, killer unicorns, and flesh-eating wendigos. Which all leads to the big question: Where are their parents?

The Diagnosis: The attempted YA coup over All Things Fiction continues in October as 27 new paranormal YA releases make their way onto the shelves and frustrate bookstore employees trying to categorize them. Included are 11 books of magical powers run amok, five mixed-critter offerings, four vampire tales, two werewolf sagas, three fantasy realms, and two sci-fi adventures.

The Cure: If you are 16 and find a secret door in your school, house, or neighborhood hangout, DO NOT ENTER. Otherwise, the hellish entities of every mythology in the history of humankind will try to kill you. However, you also will find True Love and enjoy much angst and gnashing of teeth. It’s a toss-up.

In the October Fiction Affliction YA Paranormal Medicine Chest:

* The Frenzy, by Francesca Lia Block (Sept. 28, HarperTeen)
Seventeen-year-old Liv has harbored a secret curse since she was 13, and now things are beginning to change. A mysterious pack of wild boys in the woods, a strange woman who watches her, and the love of boyfriend Corey will come together in a dangerous brew on the next full moon.

* The Exiled Queen, by Cinda Williams Chima (Sept. 28, Disney/Hyperion)
This is the second book in Chima’s The Seven Realms series, following The Demon King (2009). Han makes a deal with the clans: if they’ll send him to Mystwerk Academy, he’ll support them with the Wizard Council. One thing he hadn’t counted on was meeting his nemesis Micah, and what it would cost him to survive Mystwerk and its ancient rivalries and grudges.

* When Rose Wakes, by Christopher Golden (Sept. 28, Simon & Schuster/MTV)
In this re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty, 16-year-old Rose DuBois awakens from months in a coma with no memories. She tries to start a new life with her aunts in Boston, only to begin having Sleeping Ugly-like nightmares that become all too real.

* Ascendant, by Diana Peterfreund (Sept. 28, HarperTeen)
In this sequel to Rampant (2009), Peterfreund’s unicorn hunter Astrid, a descendent of Alexander the Great, leaves the Cloisters and join a scientific study at Gordian Pharmaceuticals. Isolated in the French countryside at Gordian headquarters, Astrid begins to question everything―including whether she should kill the unicorns, or save them.

* I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett (Sept. 28, HarperCollins) In this novel from legendary Discworld author Pratchett, young witch Tiffany Aching has left her mentors and moved out on her own to conduct the magic of the Chalk―caring for the needy. But someone is on a witch hunt, literally, and her fight to survive is marked by Pratchett’s characteristic blend of wisdom and humor.

* End of Days, by Max Turner (Sept. 28, St. Martin’s Griffin)
The second in the Night Runner series finds teen vampire Zachariah Thompson and his vamp friends just beginning to adjust to the changes in their lives when the Beast of the Apocalypse shows up to tear them apart. As Zach struggles to survive, he learns he’s not just any orphaned vampire, but part of an End of Days prophecy.

* StarCrossed, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Oct. 1, Scholastic/Levine)
In merry olde Durst, whose Greenmen have banned all magic, 16-year-old Digger is making out like a bandit―because she is a very good bandit, as well as a spy. When she is forced to hide out among the nobles as a lady’s maid, however, she gets caught in the middle of a magical rebellion, wishing she could steal a few minutes of safety.

* The Mermaid’s Mirror, by L.K. Madigan (Oct. 4, Houghton Mifflin)
Lena’s spent her whole life watching the water from beachside because her father, a former surfer who had a near-drowning, won’t let her brave the waves. On her 16th birthday, she’s lured by a mermaid to Magic Crescent Cove, and the mermaid’s mirror will change her life.

* Fearscape, by Simon Holt (Oct. 5, Little, Brown)
There’s no light paranormalcy to be found in this third title in The Devouring series. Reggie faces another Winter Solstice, the night when the demonic Vours inhabit human bodies while human souls are sent to a nightmarish place called a fearscape. But this time, she’s locked in a psychiatric hospital, where fighting back against the Vours who killed her friend and attacked her brother will require extra courage and determination.

* Slayed, by Amanda Marrone (Oct. 5, Simon Pulse)
Even vampire girls get lonely, especially when they’ve been around thousands of years. So it’s understandable when Alisa clues her friend (and human descendant) Teri in on her secret world. There are other forces at work who want to exploit Alisa’s powers for their own gain, however―and they don’t mind using Teri to get what they want.

* Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld (Oct. 5, Simon Pulse)
The highly anticipated sequel to Westerfeld’s Locus-winning World War I steampunk Leviathan and the second in a trilogy. In their battle with the machine-loving Clankers, the Darwinists will need all the power of Behemoth, the monster of the British navy that can consume enemy ships in a single bite. A girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service meets up with an heir posing as a commoner aboard the Leviathan airship, but when Leviathan’s mission goes awry, they find themselves stranded in enemy territory.

* The Goblin Gate, by Hilari Bell (Oct. 12, HarperTeen)
Second in a series following The Goblin Wood, this one finds Jeriah’s brother Tobin in danger as he’s crossed over to the Otherworld with a witch and an army of goblins. Jeriah must find the secret gate and embark on a quest to save his brother―and the kingdom.

* The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner (Oct. 12, Delacorte)
This is the second in a trilogy that began with 2009’s best-selling The Maze Runner. In Scorch, after solving the Maze, Thomas and his friends go back to their lives―only life has changed. Earth has become a decimated wasteland burned by sun flares and peopled by Cranks, killers covered in sores and driven to insanity by disease. The friends must cross the Scorch, a brutal desert, in order to reach safety.

* Stork, by Wendy Delsol (Oct. 12, Candlewick)
It’s bad enough when uber-cool Katla has to leave Los Angeles for the boonies of Minnesota. Then she discovers she was born to an ancient order of women who decide to whom certain babies will be born. Plus, there’s the football hunk and the farmboy with whom she shares a mysterious past, and prom, and dreams about crying babies, and the fate of Earth’s climate. It’s a lot for a 16-year-old to handle. First in a trilogy; the second, Frost, releases in 2011.

* Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst (Oct. 12, McElderry)
In college circles, being a legacy is a good thing―it means your parents or grandparents went to your school of choice, giving you an easy “in.” But for high school junior Lily Carter, being a legacy takes on new import when she takes a tour of Princeton and finds out granddad’s Ivy League school isn’t the one she expected. This version of Princeton is filled with talking gargoyles, tiger-haired boys and serious family secrets. Durst, herself a Princeton grad, didn’t exactly have the same Ivy experience. “The book is completely autobiographical,” she jokes. “Except for the dragons. And the talking gargoyles. And the were-tigers. Okay, it’s not at all autobiographical. But it is emotionally true. It’s about that pivotal (and terrifying) moment where you know that the decision you are making will forever change you and your future―a.k.a., the college application process.” Enchanted Ivy is a standalone; Durst’s next book, Drink, Slay, Love, features a vampire and were-unicorn.

* Beautiful Darkness, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Oct. 12, Little, Brown)
The highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling Beautiful Creatures (2009) and second (of an anticipated five) in the Caster Chronicles, Darkness finds matters in Gatlin, S.C., more confused than ever. Lena Duchannes is keeping secrets from Ethan, who is haunted by strange visions that draw him deeper into the town’s secret history and the ancient mysteries within the dangerous underground passages that undergird Gatlin and crisscross the South. Garcia and Stohl, friends who live in Los Angeles, attribute the popularity of Beautiful Creatures to its universal themes and intriguing setting. “Our book is about figuring out who you are and trying to fit in, without giving up your individuality,” Garcia says. “It’s also about being strong enough to be the person you are—despite what other people think. I think that’s something both teens and adults struggled with. I know I do.” Stohl describes both herself and Garcia as worldbuilders. “It’s one of the reasons we love fantasy, but also why we love the Southern Gothic genre,” she says. “I think readers have embraced the whole world of the Casters and Gatlin County, in the same way that HBO’s True Blood works. Every character has his own eccentricities and secrets, powers that you may or may not have discovered—yet. We didn’t want anything about Beautiful Creatures to be generic, and it’s not.”

* Banished, by Sophie Littlefield (Oct. 12, Delacorte)
Sixteen-year-old Hailey Tarbell can’t wait to ditch backwater Gypsum, Mo., and her drug-dealer grandmother as soon as she turns 18. But when a classmate is injured, Hailey discovers she has mysterious healing powers, even the ability to rejuvenate the dying. When an unknown aunt comes to town, she learns the power goes much deeper―and can be much more dangerous.

* Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride (Oct. 12, Henry Holt)
In this fiction debut, Sam picks the wrong guy to play a prank on; creepy Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead. When Sam discovers his own latent necromantic skills, the unlikely pair must team up if Sam wants to live long enough to do any dead-raising of his own. There are also zombie pandas, severed heads, werewolves, and a groan-inducing Elton John title pun.

* The Curse of the Wendigo, by Rick Yancey (Oct. 12, Simon & Schuster)
Following on the heels of The Monstrumologist in 2009, this sequel finds Dr. Warthrop diverted from his study of Homo Vampiris to search the Canadian wilderness for his ex-fiance’s husband. The man has been snatched by the heretofore fictitious Wendigo―a ravenous, cannibalistic creature out of Angonquin mythology.

* Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences, by Brian Yansky (Oct. 12, Candlewick)
Jesse is minding his own business in history class when telepathic killer aliens quietly take over Earth. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?) Most humans are killed, but Jesse and a few other lucky souls begin developing telepathic powers―and it might be time to band together for another takeover.

* Crossing Over, by Anna Kendall (Oct. 14, Viking Juvenile)
Roger hears dead people―literally crossing into the land of the dead to hear the newly departed. Unfortunately, his uncle not only exploits Roger’s gift to help with a fairground act, he also uses the teen as a punching bag. Finally escaping into the underworld, Roger finds himself at the mercy of the undead court―and the entrancing Lady Cecilia. This is Irish-born Kendall’s fiction debut.

* Hunger, by Jackie Kessler (Oct. 18, Harcourt/Graphia)
Jackie Kessler takes on a serious teen issue in the first of a new series. Lisabeth is an anorexic 17-year-old who is given the job of Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Her travels force her to see hunger among people for whom it is a curse rather than a choice as she learns to use her newfound powers. A portion of the proceeds from Hunger will be donated to the National Eating Disorders Association. Next up, in 2011: Rage, which will tackle self-injury.

* Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer (Oct. 19, Philomel)
A fiction debut featuring an emerging young Guardian Wolf named Calla who’s all set to become the new alpha female on her 18th birthday. But she spoils it by stopping to save the life of a wayward (cute…male…) human hiker, whose secret will change everything, even the outcome of the longstanding Witches’ War.

* The Dragon’s Apprentice, by James A. Owen (Oct. 19, Simon & Schuster)
This latest entry in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica finds John, Jack and Charles back in the Archipelago of Dreams, only to face the threat of both the primordial shadow, Ecthroi, and the splintering of Time. A forgotten door and a heroic quest offer the only solution.

* Ghost Town, by Rachel Caine (Oct. 26, NAL)
The ninth book in The Morganville Vampires series finds genius student Claire Danvers creating a new system to keep outsiders from telling the town’s secrets. But the system has an unexpected side-effect: it causes amnesia, even among the vampires. Morganville No. 10, Bite Club, will release in 2011.

* Misguided Angel, by Melissa de la Cruz (Oct. 26, Disney/Hyperion)
This is the fifth in de la Cruz’s popular Blue Bloods series. Schuyler and Jack have fled Florence and are out to find the remaining gates holding Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods, at bay. Meanwhile, Mimi has been elected regent and must figure out how to save her crumbling clan and find out who’s kidnapping vampires and planning to burn them―while streaming it live on the Internet.

* Another Pan, by Daniel and Dina Nayeri (Oct. 26, Candlewick)
The Nayeris, a brother-sister writing team, follow up last year’s Another Faust. This time out, the Marlowe School is swamped with evil thanks to an ancient Egyptian spell. High school junior Wendy, her boyfriend, and 13-year-old genius brother discover the secret-filled Book of Gates and a door to a hidden underworld where the most evil of Egyptian myths are real.


Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek. 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.

5 comments
Jan McNeill
1. Jan McNeill
Thanks for the info, Suzanne. Getting ready to order grant books for nine libraries and this will help in choosing some good ones.
Jan McNeill
2. SuzanneJohnson
Hope it helps, Jan!
Jan McNeill
3. Matthew Leo
Can I still crawl through the old wardrobe in the attic of my gruff by kindly old guardian? Does having a mystical abilities qualify me as a member of a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act? What if everyone else in my school has mutant powers (like the ability to talk with girls)?

W.H. Auden makes a convincing argument (in his essay "The Quest Hero") that the common, repetitive elements of heroic myth are a direct consequence of how we experience ourselves subjectively. In a fairy tale, only the hero can do what needs to be done because in our own lives we face problems that require *our* personal effort. In the fairy tale, the hero is tried and often fails his initial trials because we have conflicting agendas that lead us to wrong choices. These are the elemental truths of subjective experience.

It may not do to read as many fantasy stories as an editor must, lest you be crushed under the weight of repetitiveness. In fantasy it is execution that matters, not the common materials everyone uses. The difference between medicine and poison dosage.
Jan McNeill
4. SuzanneJohnson
All good questions, Matt. Myself, I wondered what it is about the mystical age of 16 that most of this wardrobe-in-the-attic-to-alternative-universe climbing takes place?
Jan McNeill
5. Matthew Leo
Why 16? I think I know. Most adults don't have time to deal with *this* world, much less a cryptic hidden world. They're more concerned with *jobs* than destinies. Most people, if they found a concealed doorway to a land of enchantment and terror at work, would report it to facilities and go back to xeroxing or whatever they were up to.

It's like the point I always come back to in Jane Austen books. She writes about a class of people who have nothing more urgent to do than to attend balls, picnics and other social functions and judge the behavior and motives of others. Alternatively you can go Dickens and deal with people who are forced by economic circumstances to be creative with their identities; but when you are dealing with idle aristocrats its more likely a matter of choice.

Teenagers are like billionaires in this respect. Sure, they've got to spend a certain amount of time at school work, but they have a lot more time on their hands in which they have the freedom and energy to define themselves. An adult who voluntarily spends much time at redefining himself is either person of weak character, or a bloody rich idler with time to kill. Seriously, if you're 50 years old and havent' discovered your heroic destiny, chances are you don't have one. A teenager (or an adult forced by unusual circumstances) who wrestles with identity is doing the expected thing.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment