Tag Archives: SLJ Day of Dialog 2017

All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked SaintsThe Soria family was driven from their home in Mexico because the people there were afraid of their magical powers, so they settled in the Colorado desert in a place they call Bicho Raro. Pilgrims come from all over the world to ask for a miracle. The first half of the miracle is that the saint will make your darkness visible in concrete form. The second half of the miracle is distressingly difficult and sometimes endless: the pilgrim has to find a way to deal with his own darkness before he is healed, with no help at all from the saint, the saint’s family, or anyone who loves a Soria. If the saint tries to help the pilgrim, his own darkness will come out, and a Soria’s darkness is much, much worse than any pilgrim’s.

Joaquin Soria and his cousin Beatriz run an AM radio station from the back of a box truck that has been abandoned in the desert. Their cousin, Daniel, is the current saint of Bicho Raro. Pete Wyatt is on his way to Bicho Raro, because he has been promised that he can work for the Sorias in exchange for a certain box truck. Unfortunately, Pete is bringing disaster along with him.

True confession: I have been a Maggie Stiefvater fan for years. If she writes it, I will read it. I had no idea how she could follow the spectacular success of her “Raven Cycle” series, but I can tell you now that she did it by changing gears completely. All the Crooked Saints is a love letter to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, and all of the other South American writers for whom the veil between the rational world and the world of infinite possibilities is gossamer-thin. Stiefvater’s new work is soaked in magical realism, which means that I am all in from page one. However, the old-world feel of this 1960s story is also shot through with Maggie’s own sly, winking humor. Brilliantly conceived characters and a complex, desperate plot are told through a filter woven of Latino culture and the intricacies of a singular family legacy.

This novel will be available in October, 2017. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I read a signed advance reader copy of this book, which I obtained at SLJ’s Day of Dialog. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Thick as Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner

Thick As ThievesAlthough he was a slave, Kamet was more than satisfied with his life as secretary to the brother of the heir to the throne of the Mede empire. He is well-educated, well-dressed, and well fed. He is even amassing his own personal library, and when the new emperor ascends to the throne, who knows? He may be given to him as a gift. Aside from the occasional beating, Kamet was a man of authority.

When his beloved Laela pulls him aside in the hallway to whisper that their master had been poisoned, he panics. Slaves are always tortured when a murder has been committed, and many are killed when their masters die of any cause. Kamet decides to accept an Attolian’s offer to help him escape, leaving all of his possessions behind. This journey has none of the royal accoutrements to which Kamet is accustomed; there is hunger, danger, and endless fatigue. Furthermore, Kamet had only intended to escape his master’s guards. Now he has to figure out how to escape from the Attolian.

Thick as Thieves is the latest volume in the brilliant, award-winning “Queen’s Thief” series by Megan Whalen Turner. Although this book stands on its own, readers of the earlier episodes will recognize Kamet as a minor character whose life now moves to the center of the action. The identity of the man called “the Attolian” almost all the way through will slowly become clear. After Kamet endures experiences that change him into a much wiser man, the reader will delight to see many earlier characters gathered together to resolve the mystery of why an officious, little scholar would be so important to an enemy king.

“The Queen’s Thief” remains one of my favorite series in young adult literature. I have reviewed the entire series here. I am looking forward to meeting Megan Whalen Turner at Book Expo in New York next week, and I’ll be sure to ask her several nervous questions about the fate of a couple of my favorite characters. Some of her hints at the end of this book have me on pins and needles!

Very highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I read an advance reader copy of this book, although I hope to obtain a signed copy next week! Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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