Library Column: New Young Adult Fiction

Published 8:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2021

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week I’m highlighting some of the New Young Adult fiction we have at the library. (Don’t worry, these titles can be enjoyed by adults as well!)

“Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche” is Nancy Springer’s latest entry in her Enola Holmes series. Though Enola is the much younger sister of the famous Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, she has all the wit and cunning of them both. Enola is only 15, but she is living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up at Sherlock’s doorstep frantic to find out the fate of her twin sister, it’s Enola who takes the case. Miss Glover’s sister married the Earl of Dunhench, but it seems he has sent a curt message to Letitia informing her that her sister has died. The Earl’s note is quite vague, and the death certificate is most dubious. It seems it was signed by John H. Watson, M.D. (though he denies any knowledge of the event). Enola decides to go undercover, much to the chagrin of her older brother. It turns out that Letitia’s twin is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and under dubious circumstances. If Enola is to uncover the secrets held within the walls of the Earl’s house, then she will need all the help she can get — Letitia, Sherlock and her old friend the young Viscount Tewkesbury.

Lemony Snicket is an author who has led millions of young readers through a mysterious world of bewildering questions and unfortunate events. In his latest book, “Poison for Breakfast,” he must ponder his own peculiarities: the proper way to cook an egg, a perplexing idea called “tzimtzum” and the transcendent feeling of swimming in open water. This story begins with Snicket receiving a note under his door — “You had poison for breakfast.” Naturally, it follows that he must work out the clues that have led to his own demise. Certainly Mr. Snicket did not relish this task, but what choice did he have? Full of the wit and wisdom fans have come to love in Snicket’s books, this story is altogether a true story — “as true as Lemony Snicket himself.”

Sasha Peyton Smith delivers a thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy with “The Witch Haven.” Seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior in 1911 New York City. Everything changes when she’s attacked, and the man ends up dead at her feet — her scissors in his neck. Only Frances can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two mysterious cape-wearing nurses appear, tell her she is ill and whisk her away to the Haxahaven Sanitarium. Frances finds that Haxahaven isn’t really a sanitarium, but a school for witches. Within its walls, she finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns her that magic is dangerous. Feeling unfulfilled with the small, safe magic being taught at the school, Frances is enchanted by the promises of Finn, a magical boy who appears in her dream and tells her he can teach her all the things she longs to learn. Her newfound powers also attract the attention of the leader of an ancient order who thirsts for magical control of Manhattan — and who will stop at nothing to bring Frances into the fold. Frances will have to decide what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price will she pay for power? What if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Sister-writer duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite explore the lasting impact of prejudice and the indomitable spirit of sisterhood with their latest “One of the Good Ones.” Teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a rally. Her sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi starts to question the idealized version of her sister that people are honoring. Perfect. Angelic. One of the good ones. That phrase doesn’t sit well with her. Why are only certain people deemed worthy of being missed? Isn’t being human enough? Happi and her other sister Genny decide to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. There’s a twist to Kezi’s story, however, one that no one could have anticipated, and it will change everything all over again.

Mark Twain’s classic novel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” gets the Manga treatment by author Crystal Silvermoon. Whether forming a pirate gang to search for buried treasure, conning his friends into whitewashing the fence, or spending time at home sharing his medicine with Aunt Polly’s cat, rebellious Tom Sawyer evokes the childhood world of nineteenth-century rural America. Tom and his friend Huck Finn conceal themselves in the town cemetery, where they witness a grave robbery and a murder. Later, the boys hideout on a forested island while the townspeople conduct a frantic search and finally mourn them as dead. The friends proudly return to town to attend their own funeral, in time for a dramatic trial for the graveyard murder. A three-day ordeal ensues when Tom and his sweetheart, Becky Thatcher, lose their way in the very cave that houses the murderer. This Manga edition has all of the boyish pranks and shrewd observations of human nature as the original.