Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New fantasy novels: The Mark of the Dragonfly, Stitching Snow and Atlantia

New fantasy novels are almost sure to be the first in a series, so I was quite surprised to read three new fantasy offerings that seem to be stand alones.  The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson is a steampunk novel filled with shape-shifters and mechanical beings who inhabit a ruined planet.  Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis is an interstellar re-imagining of Snow White where the princess is a runaway mechanic.  Atlantia by Allie Condie (Matched series) imagines a world so polluted than an underwater city must be created to house refugees from Above.

The Mark of the Dragonfly introduces Piper, a mechanically gifted orphan who lives in the meteor fields on a decimated planet.  She makes a living collecting and repairing things deposited by meteor showers.  When she finds Anna, a young amnesiac who is marked with the king's dragonfly tattoo, Piper decides to return her to the king and collect a reward.  She smuggles them onto a train heading to the capital and meets Gee, a shape shifting boy/dragon who is in charge of the train's security. When a menacing man comes looking for Anna, Piper and Gee must go to great lengths to protect her and in the process find Anna is not all that she seems.  As they travel toward the capital, the trio discovers much about the problems the kingdom faces, as well as their roles in its future. This book, which is targeted for middle level readers, is fast paced, taking place in a unique dystopian world with characters that you really care about.

In the futuristic Stitching Snow, Princess Snow is missing from her home planet and her royal parents are frantically searching for her.  Little do they know that she has run away to planet Thanda where she spends her days repairing droids that run the local mines.  Then Dane crash lands on Thanda and Essie must repair his ship. She soon realizes his crash landing was not accidental and that she is in danger of losing her freedom, as well as her heart.  Although this re-imagining doesn't follow the fairy tale faithfully, there are enough recognizable elements to make it great fun.  Action packed and romantic, it will entertain  middle and high school readers looking for a plucky heroine struggling to find her way.

Atlantia's dystopian theme takes us under the sea where Bay and her twin sister Rio live, because the earth Above has become so polluted that most people have moved to the engineered city Below.  Unfortunately some people must remain Above to support and feed the Atlantians. Attending the choosing ceremony, Rio is shocked when Bay volunteers to go.  Rio had planned to make the sacrifice, but after their mother died she promised her sister she would stay with her Below even though it is dangerous for her.  Rio is secretly a siren and if she is found out, she will be forced to serve the city council.  As she plots to go Above to find Bay, Rio uncovers the secrets of Atalantia's past and uncertain future.  Allie Condie fans who loved the Matched series will be fans of this new offering which again pits determined teens against the powers that be.

Although none of these books is billed as the first in a new series, I wouldn't be surprised to see the authors caving into pressure to tell readers what happened next.  The complex world building required in fantasy novels makes it very tempting to create a new story using familiar characters and settings that readers know and love.

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