Jessica Miller: The Republic of Birds (The Text Publishing Company 2020)
Kiran Millwood Hargrave: The Way Past Winter (Chicken House 2018)
Lisa Lueddecke: The City of Lost Dreamers (Scholastic 2021)
I have already written about one of the books I read about Polarthon in the Airships II post. Now you can read about the other polar fantasy books I have read recently. What makes them special is that they are all stand-alone novels not part of a series.
Jessica Miller is currently writing her PhD dissertation on children’s literature. Her first children’s book, the Gothic-style Elizabeth and Zenobia, has been nominated for numerous awards. The Republic of Birds is based on Slavic folklore and even its storytelling evokes Russian folk tales: the protagonist must endure almost endless trials in order to achieve his/her goal. The depiction of the sisters was very interesting in the book. Mira is a very talented dancer she could be a world-famous ballerina. Olga, on the other hand, is completely ordinary and although she loves her sister very much, she is sad that she will not be as good in anything as Mira in dancing. When she finally finds something, she’s very talented in, she must decide what’s really important to her. For me, the main lesson of the novel is how much we are willing to (or should) sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a poet and writer. In addition to her poems, her young adult and adult books have also been published, but she is best known for her children’s books with deep sayings. Her first novel, The Girl of Ink and Stars, was also published in Hungarian. The Way Past Winter is her third children’s book, a story similar to the Snow Queen. Mila, Oscar, Sanna and Pípa are four siblings living together in a small house in Eldbjorn forest, where spring has not arrived for five years. One morning, Oscar disappears along with the ominous company that arrived the night before. While Sanna thinks her brother left with them voluntarily (she would love to go if she could), Mila is sure they took Oscar against his will. The young boys also disappear from the nearby village, except for the mage. With his help, Mila and Pípa follow the stranger. What was interesting about the story was that the stranger wasn’t clearly an evil character, he also had a reason for punishing people.
American writer Lisa Lueddecke became known for her young adult books. In The City of Lost Dreamers the fate of Siya and Feodor is intertwined to save the city of Shard. While Feodor is the great hope of the future, a skillful wizard, the son of the future leader of the Guild, Siya is the only member of her family who has no magical ability. Because of this, her father never really accepted her. However, Feodor discovers how special Siya is. The story is connected to the Slavic tales by the appearance of Baba Yaga, the powerful magician who curses the city to eternal wandering. While the two young people want to save Shard, they have to realize that Baba Yaga probably had a good reason to curse the city… Interestingly, the author’s other book, The Forest of Ghosts and Bones contains elements of Hungarian folk tales.