What is A/S Reading? – No. 21

New Year, New Books! Or, at the very least, New Year, New Reading of Old, Been-Out-For-Some-Time Books! This is: What is A/S Reading?


Publicist Vicki Lame just finished Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms and is super sad that the creepy puppet journey is over.

No, but really, there are PUPPETS. Puppets are SO in the same category as dolls in the Things Vicki Finds Creepy realm of existence. But! They are amazing puppets! And! I love creepy things! At least in books. And this Victorian gothic middle grade book is chock full of dark magic and get-under-your-skin-creepy puppetry and, of course, friendship. For what is a children’s book without the power of friendship? (And, I do mean that sincerely.)

Anyway… description! When wealthy young Clara Wintermute finds herself spellbound by an extraordinary street performance by master puppeteer Gaspare Grisini, she makes him the lucky recipient of an invitation to entertain at her birthday party with the help of his two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. And he does, to great success. But when Clara tragically disappears that very night, the blame immediately falls on them. And, of course, Gaspare, is indeed not all he seems. And if he seemed at all good, he’s definitely not that.

And… that’s all you get! Because I really think you need to read this amazing book for yourself. And because I’ve said puppet so many times it has lost all meaning.

Managing Editor Laura McMillan just finished The Magician King by Lev Grossman:.

This is book 2 of The Magicians trilogy, and holy shit am I glad the final book isn’t out yet. I need a refractory period. These novels–which kind of start with the premises of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia and then go unbelievably dark and funny places with them–aren’t long, but each one feels like an epic. Grossman manages to world-build in a rich and original way without getting bogged down in fantasy-novel levels of detail. There’s just enough to make you feel the magic, but not enough to distract you from what is, at its core, a heartbreaking coming-of-age novel.

Also, there was a song contest. What?

Staffer Amy Rosembaum read all of the books recently! Well, okay, a few.

I read two really great YA fantasies recently: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor and later Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Go there if you want rich, dark, beautiful, twisty worlds with characters and writing to match. But the book I just finished is more along the lines of science fiction, or maybe science probable. UnWholly by Neal Shusterman scared the shit out of me. The idea behind the Unwind trilogy seems laughable, but bear with me.

The unresolvable conflict between pro-life and pro-choice factions in the near future resulted in a Second Civil War. To broker peace, someone came to the table with a ludicrous compromise. Now abortion is outlawed, but retroactive abortion (called unwinding) can occur between the ages of 13 and 18. Unwinding is a process where doctors place every single part of a person, usually a surly teenager, into donors. This decision changes the fabric of society, to chilling effect. Shusterman has carefully considered his—perhaps our—world, and his writing is fast-paced. Bonus points for the creepy meta propaganda interludes. This is YA at its smartest.

Unfortunately John, Evan, and Adam are all currently being held hostage by an evil giraffe and were unable to provide their reads. It happens.

giraffe looking disdainful

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