Fear and Fantasy
By Barbara Bietz – Children's Book Reviews – The popularity of fantasy novels is growing across all age groups.
There are some delightfully dangerous new titles, but don't overlook the creepy classics that you can find in your library. If your young reader has not experienced the exhilaration of a fantasy book, perhaps it's time to try!
Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin is the perfect antidote to mindless chick lit in a fairy fantasy that will keep readers guessing until the end. Phoebe Rothchild is the fictional descendantof the famous Rothschild banking family. A bit insecure about the true loyalty of her friends, she is immediately drawn to a new girl at school named Mallory. Mallory seems odd, but interesting. In alternating chapters, the reader is aware that Mallory is really a fairy, sent on a mission by her queen to befriend Phoebe. The girls become best friends, but when Mallory develops a real attachment to Phoebe, the queen sends in Mallory's brother to finish the mission. Although it is clear that Mallory is in harm's way, it is not clear for what purpose. But the psychological victimization that Mallory and her brother foist upon Phoebe is chilling. A mystery until the end, Extraordinary blurs the line between friend and foe.
Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick explores the topic of psychic communication in a murderous mystery that explores the boundaries of perception. Christian is a 17 year old boy whose life is shrouded in mystery. After the disappearance of both parents, he believes that are still alive, stuck in the "sideways place." His uncle, with whom he lives, is supportive but concerned about Christian. Christian paints, even in his sleep. The people he paints usually end up dying, and the power frightens Christian. He is given community service as a punishment for vandalizing a barn with red painted swastikas, even though he does not remember doing it. While working in an old aged home he comes across a man who is unable to communicate with Christina but through his paintings Christian is able to read his thoughts, and ultimately piece together a murder mystery from decades before. The plot is complicated, but compelling. The author combines research with the supernatural in a believable story. Christian is a likeable character who will appeal to teen readers. There is a bit of salty language, making this mystery inappropriate for younger readers.
Seven Spiders Spinning is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in the 1990's. Seven baby Siberian Spiders make their way into a school and each one falls in love with a girl from the "Tattletale" club. Trouble and chaos ensure as the baby spider grow. Both creepy and contemporary, typical school social dynamics coupled with scary spiders make for a perfect story for middle grade readers.
Fantasy can be fun – but don't read in the dark!