Lynn: This has been another GREAT year for fantasy fans. Those who love sequels—and ALL fantasy fans love sequels—were in total bliss this year as the sequels have been STELLAR. Rabid fantasy lovers have probably already read these but it never hurts to spread the love. These wonderful books deserve it, as each one is even better than its outstanding series start.
Cracks in the Kingdom, by Jaclyn Moriarty (Colors of Madeleine series)
The cracks dividing the Kingdom of Cello and our nonmagical world grow wider and the troubles get deeper. Wily Princess Ko has to produce the royal family soon or a war may envelope the country. She appoints Elliot and a band of teens to step up the search with Elliot searching for his father as well. Madeline and Elliot’s inter-world correspondence escalates along with the surprises. Moriarty continues to deepen her characters and expand her already rich world-building in this smart and wholly unique series. Read about book 1: A Corner of White (2013).
The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co. series)
In this ghost-ridden London, the firm of Lockwood & Co. continue their investigations, this time taking on a new and even more dangerous case. Truly scary scenes are counterbalanced by the sparkling dialog, the team’s squabbling and the funny domestic details. Stroud builds on the last book, adding to and deepening readers’ understanding of this macabre world and its characters. Intriguing new elements and a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger round out the story and left me wanting the next book immediately! Read about book 1: The Screaming Staircase (2013).
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle)
The Raven Boys and townie Blue continue their urgent search for the sleeping king, Glendower. But now Blue’s mother has disappeared, the evil Colin Greenmantle closes in and the searchers learn that there are actually three sleepers . . . two, plus the one that must NOT be wakened. The romantic tension between Blue and Gansey tightens even more and it is hard to decide which of the characters I love more. Stiefvater’s gorgeous prose and inventive story are irresistible. The killer ending had me on the edge of my reading chair! I love it by the way, that she calls these a “cycle.” Waaay cooler than “series.” Read about book 1: The Raven Boys (2012).
You think dragons are vicious?
Please, you haven’t seen teens
fight for popular sequels!
Cindy: Sadly, I often have to skip sequels due to the number of books threatening to topple on me from my TBR pile, but I have The Whispering Skull in the audiobook queue waiting its turn. I can’t wait.
Jinx’s Magic, by Sage Blackwood (Jinx series)
Over the recent holiday break, I did permit myself to stray from my required reading to return to Jinx’s race to save the magical Urwald woods in this sequel. A seventh-grade girl in our book club raved about it at the December meeting, saying she loved it so much, she’d read it three times in a row. I couldn’t resist any longer after hearing that. Jinx has his work cut out for him to figure out the mysteries of the Urwald and its creatures, to navigate the confusing Samara scholar’s library, and to rescue Wizard Simon and save the Urwald from lumberjacks and other threats. The plot gets as tangled as the deep Urwald, but the best part about holding off reading this for so long is that the third and final installment, Jinx’s Fire, publishes soon (March 24) and we can learn how it all untangles. You can bet I won’t wait until next holiday break to treat myself to Blackwood’s dry humor and fabulous world building! Read about book 1: Jinx (2013).
Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman (Seraphina)
Sometimes sequels drive me back to start a series I’ve missed. Our book-club teens have been hounding us for a year for a sequel to Hartman’s fabulous dragon fantasy, Seraphina. When an arc of Shadow Scale (which will be published on March 10) hit my doorstep, the fighting began for real. One of our book-club alumni drove 50 miles round-trip to pick up the ARC from my house to get it before I took it into school after break. (You think dragons are vicious? Please, you haven’t seen teens fight for popular sequels!) I was only able to hand it over so easily because I never read Seraphina. (I know, I’m an idiot.) I’m about a third of the way through now, listening to the audiobook on my commute and I just want to keep driving. I should have listened to Lynn long ago about reading this Morris YA Debut Award winner. (Can you see her head nodding vigorously?) Seraphina’s tentative peace treaty between humans and dragons just might be the best way to ruminate on the issues facing our world today. Those of you who are way ahead of me will want to mark your calendar for the March release of Shadow Scale. The first teen review is in: “Fabulous . . . but this is the end! It’s only two books! AUUUGH.” Read about book 1: Seraphina (2012).
P.S. It’s okay if, like me, you have some catching up to do. I won’t tell. 😉