Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

H.E. Edgmon’s The Witch King: All Hail the Kings!

The Witch King, by H.E. Edgmon, (June 2021, Inkyard Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781335212795

Ages 14+

Wyatt Croft is a witch on the run. Originally from the fae kingdom of Asalin, Wyatt – a transgender 17-year-old boy – escaped a past loaded with trauma and abuse, finding home and family in our world. That all changes when Wyatt’s fated mate, the fae prince Emyr, shows up and demands that Wyatt return with him to fulfill his role as Emyr’s husband and take the throne of Asalin. Wyatt reluctantly returns to Asalin, with his best friend, Briar, in tow, and learns that relations between witches and fae are heading toward revolution – and Wyatt, who’s trying to resolve his own conflicted feelings about Emyr – is right in the middle of it. An anti-fascist, queer fantasy with incredible worldbuilding and characters you’ll love – and love to loathe – The Witch King has it all: romance, high fantasy meets contemporary fiction, and a wicked sense of humor. There’s powerful storytelling throughout The Witch King: being trans isn’t at the heart of the hatred toward Wyatt; transgender and nonbinary characters are major characters in the story, but Wyatt’s being a witch is the issue. The abuse and abandonment of witches takes the place of being LGBTQ+ in our society here, allowing readers to both see a functioning society where diversity is embraced in theory, but in practice, it’s very different. Sound familiar? Revolution, reform, and the idea of burning everything down to rebuild make The Witch King one of the most readable, relevant novels you’ll read this year.

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Think you know Peter Pan? Read Lisa Maxwell’s Unhooked.

unhookedUnhooked, by Lisa Maxwell (Feb. 2016, Simon Pulse), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481432047

Recommended for ages 13+

Gwendolyn has never had a real home. Her mother has moved she and Gwen around for years, never staying too long in one place, always on the run from the monsters she swore were after them. Gwen is tired and frustrated at this latest move to a small apartment in London. Thankfully, her best friend, Olivia, is spending the summer with them.

Shortly after they arrive at the apartment, Gwen and Olivia are taken in the middle of the night by shadowy creatures. Separated from Olivia and desperate to find out what’s going on, she finds herself on a boat and demands that the Captain enlighten her. And that’s when she discovers that the monsters her mother always worried about weren’t just a figment of her imagination. Gwen is in Neverland, and Hook isn’t necessarily the one she has to watch out for. Now, she’s got to find Olivia and try to find their way home, but Pan isn’t planning on making things easy for anyone. He’s got an agenda, and the two girls have been brought to Neverland to help him accomplish it. He’s a sweet talker, especially compared to the harsh, brutal Hook, but Gwen has the feeling that Pan’s not all he seems to be…

This dark fantasy reimagining of Peter Pan will turn everything you think you know about Neverland and Peter Pan on its head. It’s a dark and brutal tale, with children dying in battle and evil faeries playing both sides. It’s fast-paced and well constructed, with smart, put-together characters and a painful World War I story gently woven into the overall narrative. You’ll try to place all the characters – I did – but just go with the narrative rather than try to fit every peg to a hole. For instance, I quickly figured that Gwen was Wendy, but where were Michael and John? There are parallels that could be drawn – no spoilers here – but in the end, Gwen is Gwendolyn, Hook is Hook, Pan is Pan, and Olivia is Olivia. These are their own characters, their own people, unique and individual in every way.

I don’t know whether this will turn into a series or a trilogy. This is a great stand-alone adventure and doesn’t need further explanation. Add to your fantasy collection; YA fairy tales are always good to have available to provide a comforting bridge to childhood with a decidedly grown-up spin to them.