The powerful city of Tevanne is divided, split into five distinct areas: a single campus for each of the great merchant houses, and the Commons, slums that exist between the walls of the mighty. The strength of Tevanne, the wealth of the merchant houses, all depend on scriving, the magical process of convincing objects that reality is different than what it seems. Wheels written to believe they are on a slope, so they speed up, even if they're really going uphill; crossbow bolts that believe they have been falling for thousands of feet the instant they are fired; walls that believe they are iron, when they are mere wood.
Of all things that may be scrived, only one is forbidden: humans. To alter the reality of a human is a monumental task, one that has been tried before, to gruesome, disastrous results. In a rare accord, the four merchant houses have agreed that scriving a person is too dangerous to even attempt. The results could be fantastic: soldiers who feel no fear, slaves who have no will, perhaps even immortality, but the costs are too high, the methods too extreme and unreliable.
Someone did it anyway.
Sancia lives in the Commons, eking out a meager existence as a thief. She's very good, because she has a huge advantage: a scrived plate in her head, that lets her interact with other objects and "see" what they have experienced. It's easy to climb a wall when you know where all the best handholds are, even in the dark, to avoid guards because you know exactly where they're standing. Her talent keeps her alive, but at the cost of great pain, and the inability to touch another person.
Everything changes for Sancia when she is tasked with a dangerous, lucrative theft. All she took was a small, narrow box, from a row of safes full of money, jewels, and other valuables. What could be so precious? What, in a world of magic, would anyone need so badly? The answer changes Sancia, and forces upheaval on the city of Tevanne that it may never recover from. The theft was a stroll in the park, compared to what Sancia will have to do to survive the calamitous events she inadvertently sets into motion.
With a fresh, interesting magic system, a tough protagonist, and a fun supporting cast, set against a backdrop of ancient wars, betrayals, and simple human weakness, Foundryside is a fantastic addition to the reading list of any fantasy aficionado. As the first volume in a planned series, it sets the stage well for further adventures. I'm certainly looking forward to volume two!
Recommended by - Don Priest, Library Director
Zoinks! It's 1977 and the Blyton Summer Detective Club just cracked their greatest case. Another man in a mask taken down by the teen detectives and their excitable canine. Their final case together all wrapped up in a neat little bow and posted on the front page of the small mining town's newspaper. At least, that's what they tell themselves...
Thirteen years later and Andy, the rough tomboy of the group, is determined to get the gang back together and face the source of the nightmares no one seems to want to address. Starting off with Kerri, the pretty genius and budding biologist now an alcoholic college-dropout making ends meet as a waitress at a dive bar in New York. Together, along with the equally eager descendant of their original dog companion, they seek out Nate, their resident horror junkie, across the country in Massachusetts. Nate still keeps in close contact with Peter, their handsome jock and fearless leader turned movie star, seeing him fairly regularly despite Nate’s on-again/off-again residency at the mental institution and Peter being dead for years now.
Edgar Cantero brings us the Scooby Gang with Eldritchian PTSD and less-than-subtle homoromantic undertones story we never knew we needed but absolutely did. Meddling Kids is a slow read with some minor pacing issues and confusing POV moments but it’s worth the time if you’re willing to set it aside for a book that’ll make you laugh, cry, and turn on the lights next time before you walk down the hallway at night.
Recommended by - Ren, Staff member
Middle school is a rough transitional time where you’re just trying to figure out who you are. And it’s hard enough without being stereotyped and pushed into a role simply by the way others perceive you. Jorge happens to be big, tall, and imposing, but in reality is just a quiet, gentle giant with a fierce loyal streak. He makes the most of it, though, and uses his stature as a deterrent for bullies and other pranksters to toe the line, just with a meaningful look getting his point across.
But as drama-free as he tries to make things, he gets an unexpected dose when he develops a crush on Jazmine. Complicating things further, it turns out she’s already got a boyfriend. When they finally have a chance of being together, a chatroom scandal sets the whole school buzzing and horribly implicates Jorge. By remaining true to himself, doing the right thing, and with the help of friends, Jorge sets an example for the whole school.
Recommended by - Barbara Keresztury, Adult Librarian
Youth Graphic Novel
When we’re in middle school we’re at a point where we start to seriously think about what it means to be ourselves, and what kind of people we want to be. Unfortunately everyone else seems to want to TELL us who we are, usually without consulting us first.
Bri, a student at a school that will feel familiar to anyone who has experienced their early teen years, is tired of labels and the limitations they imply. People are more than one thing, and while she doesn’t mind being smart and accomplished, being “The Brain” isn’t all there is to her. Perhaps this is why she allows her mother, with whom she has a strained relationship, to talk her into acting in a dramatic scene for the school talent show. While it’s definitely a chance to step outside of her comfort zone and show people that there’s more to her than brains, she can’t help but feel that this is just her mom’s attempt to make her into someone her mom wants her to be.
Meanwhile, another student at the same school, Izzy, is a middle child with a lot of dreams, ideas, and ambition, and no ability to focus, except on the one thing she truly loves: drama club. She’s been preparing for the talent show all year, and has a killer act ready go. She can’t WAIT for the big day, to the point that she can hardly think about anything else the week before. A forgotten assignment, graded a 0 with no recourse, damages her already shaky academic standing and her mother grounds her, forbidding her from taking part in the talent show.
The way these stories resolve, and intertwine, is a sweet surprise that I leave to readers to discover for themselves. If you like coming of age stories, or true to life graphic novels of any sort, you’re sure to love this gem.
Recommended by - Mike DiMuzio, Youth Librarian