Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire, narrated by Michelle Dockrey
Audio Published by Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
“Beneath the Sugar Sky” by Seanan McGuire opens with seventeen year old Rini falling from the sky out of a magical door and landing into a pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Rini has traveled from her home world of Confection (a true Candyland) to the “real world” in search of her mother, Sumi. However, she discovers Sumi has died before Rini was even conceived. Rini and Sumi’s friends from Eleanor’s West Home for Wayward Children embark on a quest to find and resurrect Sumi in order to save the world of Confection and Rini’s life.
“Beneath the Sugar Sky” by Seanan McGuire is the third book in the Wayward Children series. However, this title is a stand-alone tale that allows a listener who may be new to the series to embrace the worlds and characters easily. McGuire creates a dark and fantastical world filled with relatable characters that show incredible growth and depth. The narrator, Michelle Dockrey, offers unique character voices that allow the reader to discern the characters easily between dialogue. She, also, achieves superb and appropriate tone and mood for each character. In addition, Dockrey is capable of creating beautiful subtleties between related (familial) characters or even characters with accents or hidden identities that give the addition of substance to the narration and plot.
Fan of dark whimsical fantasies such as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Graveyard Book or Coraline by Neil Gaiman would feel right at home with Beneath the Sugar Sky. For those non-readers, fans of Tim Burton’s or Guillermo del Toro’s films, enthusiasts for video games like Little Nightmare, Limbo, Rime, Night in the Woods, and American McGee’s Alice, and admirers of televisions show like Once Upon Time, Over the Garden Wall, and Supernatural would be interested in this book and series.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Magic disappeared from Orïsha 11 years ago and the King killed every maji (adult with powers). Zélie’s mother was one of those maji. Now Zélie has the chance to return magic to Orïsha, with the help of her brother, Tzain, and Princess Amari of Orïsha. However, Prince Inan has been charged with stopping them, by any means necessary. It’s a battle for magic, for the kingdom, and for family.
As with many magic, deep fantasy, and science fiction books characters speak a different language, Bahni Turpin brings those words to life and allows readers to be immersed in the language and culture of Orïsha. She masterfully interprets Adeyemi’s words, bringing meaning and understanding to the unique language spoken by the maji in Orïsha. Children of Blood and Bone is not only a story of magic and adventure but of culture, meaning, and history. Though this is a work of high fantasy, the underlying themes of racism, oppression, and the abuse of power speak to current events, making Zélie’s story relatable to teen readers.
While listening to this story Harry Potter came to mind but so did one of the most recent Marvel movies: Black Panther. The culture of the book is influenced by Adeyemi’s West African heritage and so is the message of the story. If the message of the story was not clear enough the Authors Note at the end is powerful and will make you see the story in a whole new light as well.
–Samantha Jackson & Jessica Hilbun Schwartz