Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Publication Date: September 28, 2021 ISBN: 978-0593405680
Koffi and her mother live with and work for the Night Zoo, caring for the magical, monstrous creatures within. When her mother’s life is threatened one night, Koffi accidentally unleashes a power she didn’t know she possessed and must run for her life. Meanwhile, Ekon, second son of a famed military hero, is desperate to prove to his brother that he belongs in the ranks of the Sons of the Six after a disastrous interruption to his final rite of passage. Koffi and Ekon meet by chance and each recognizes a potential path forward if they can locate the Shetani – a magical, murderous beast that has been plaguing the area for almost 100 years. Koffi wants to find the Shetani to sell it in exchange for freedom; Ekon wants to find the Shetani to kill it to prove his mettle as a warrior. Neither is honest with the other about their true motivations, but they will have to find a way to work together if either of them is to survive.
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa Harlequin Teen Publication Date: October 2, 2018 ISBN: 978-1335145161
Yumeko has spent her whole life in the Silent Winds temple, isolated from the rest of the world and using her Kitsune (half-human, half-fox) nature to cause mischief. All that time she was unaware of the treasure protected by the monks in the temple. Not gold or riches, but one piece of a scroll that can summon the great Kami Dragon. When the temple is attacked, Yumeko must flee with the scroll in order to keep it safe.
Paranormal Romance is a sub-genre of Romance. For a novel to be a Paranormal Romance, a simple thing must occur: love must begin between a human and a supernatural being (whether wholly supernatural or partially, just as long as there are supernatural elements present). However, this can be a broad interpretation. Usually, the protagonist (often the human) in these novels is put in some kind of danger, where they come to realize they can overcome this danger either on their own or with the help of the supernatural love interest.
Main characters include both humans and supernatural beings. The supernatural being can be wholly supernatural or partly, and include but are not limited by the following “types”: vampire, werewolf, fairy, magician, mermaid, zombie, psychic, ghost, demon hunter, demon, angel, shapeshifter, dragon, and gods or goddesses. Additionally, the human in Paranormal Romances can have a touch of the paranormal as well. An example is the teen psychic that can see the ghost. Quite often, when it comes to paranormal romances written for teens, a love triangle is involved. There could be more than one human, or more than one supernatural being in the triangle. Continue reading Genre Guide: Paranormal Romances for Teens
Much of diverse young adult literature is contemporary, realistic fiction, or historical fiction about the struggle of being a person of color. As a teen library worker, I get to know the personal lives of teens and some of their stories are heartbreaking. From poverty to bullying, I recognize that the struggle is real and I am happy to be a non-judgemental adult soundboard. I am also grateful for the plethora of young adult fiction available so that I can hand a book to a teen I feel will provide some insight and comfort.
But when life is tough, many teens also like to escape into fantasy and science fiction. Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror also like to see themselves in these books. If people of color can survive slavery and oppression and poverty, they can also survive zombies and maniacal kings and dragons. So, where are the black Hermiones?
I am a teen services specialist and a major part of my job is to connect teens with books. I have an avid reader, who is Middle Eastern, who asks me to recommend fantasy books about once a month. A year ago when the We Need Diverse Books movement started, I asked her to do a cue card about why we need diverse books and she stated that she would like to see more Middle Eastern characters in fantasy. A little over a year later, I gave her The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and she came back and absolutely raved about the book. She said that she particularly loved the inside cover because there was a girl who looked and dressed like her. This is one reason why we need diverse books.
If you are a library worker looking to enhance your diverse young adult repertoire or a teen reader looking for yourself in a magical world or a speculative fiction reader seeking something new, here’s a list of speculative young adult fantasy/science fiction titles for you to try. Please note that some titles feature characters of color in a supporting role—but that’s okay because Hermione was a supporting character, too. Continue reading Diversity YA Life: Diverse Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror