Today I’m featuring two books by Deva Fagan: THE MIRRORWOOD, a unique middle grade fantasy about a girl without a face and NIGHTINGALE, another fantasy, this time with a superhero spin. The first book just came out on 4/12, and the second was released in paperback on that same date!
Check out my reviews, along with Deva’s list of top ten addictions and a giveaway of both books!
The Mirrorwood by Deva Fagan
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on April 12, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Cover Artist: Design by Karyn Lee. Art by Sylvia Bi
Perfect for fans of the Twisted Tales series and Doll Bones, this thrilling middle grade fantasy follows a girl without a face as she battles a deadly enchanted forest and learns the truth behind her world’s fairy tales.
Appearances are always deceiving…
Fable has been cursed by what the people in her village call the Blight, a twisted enchantment that leaves her without a face of her own. To stay alive, Fable has to steal the faces of others, making her an outcast that no one trusts. When the fierce Blighthunter Vycorax comes to kill Fable to stop her curse from spreading, Fable narrowly escapes by fleeing into the thorny woods surrounding her small village.
The treacherous forest has been ruled by a demon-prince for centuries, a deadly place trapped in time. Fable—and her opinionated feline companion, Moth—is the first to dare enter in a very long time. There, she encounters a tediously chatty skull, dangerously meddlesome deities, and a beast so powerful it tears at the fabric of reality, leaving nothingness in its horrible wake.
Fable will soon discover that, in the Mirrorwood, nothing is quite like the stories say, and the perilous realm may be the only chance she has to break her curse and find her true self.
THE MIRRORWOOD is the best kind of middle grade fantasy, full of unique and whimsical magic, high-stakes adventure, surprising twists, and the blurriest of lines between heroes and villains. Fable has spent her life in hiding because she is Blighted, touched by the twisted magic of the Mirrorwood. No one outside of her family can know or she has no face of her own, that she has “borrow” a face (and a bit of life-force) from others. When the hunters find her out, Fable has no choice but to run – into the Mirrorwood to try to break the curse that has ruined her life. But once she’s there, along with the very hunter who wanted to kill her, she discovers that nothing is as simple as the tales she’s been told.
The magical world of Mirrorworld is fascinating; many people (and objects) have been twisted by the Blight in crazy and sometimes entertaining ways. Fable and Vycorax encounter villagers stuck in a time-loop, dead men who talk, deities who speak in riddles and sometimes do more harm than good, and demons who aren’t what they seem (all while accompanied by a cute talking cat). Kids will be endlessly fascinated by the universe that Fagan has created and by the twists and turns that Fable’s journey takes as she tries to figure out who to trust, how to break her curse, and what solution is really best for everyone.
If you enjoy fantasy, you need to pick up this book! Fagan is fast becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Nightingale by Deva Fagan
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on April 12, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: The Publisher
Cover Artist: Design by Rebecca Syracuse. Art by Marion Bordeyne
A plucky orphan girl stumbles into a conflict centuries in the making in this thrilling middle grade fantasy about unexpected heroes, the power of friendship, and one boisterous enchanted sword.
Twelve-year-old Lark is determined to escape her squalid life at Miss Starvenger’s boarding house, but she needs to find the coin to do it. Her grand scheme? To steal her fortune from the Royal Museum.
Unfortunately, her heist goes off the rails, and Lark ends up stealing a magical sword right out from under the nose of Prince Jasper, who’s none too happy to have his plans thwarted. Lark soon discovers that the Sword has a mind of its own, and has chosen her to be the next Nightingale, a fabled hero who must vanquish an ancient evil that is waking after centuries of sleep.
Working alone has its limitations, but relying on others after a lifetime of disappointments feels impossible. Still, Lark will need the help of her boarding house roommates if she wants to defeat the villainous forces that threaten to dismantle everything she holds dear.
NIGHTINGALE is a steampunk-inspired superhero fantasy, set in a world reminiscent of the days of the early labor unions. Lark will do just about anything to get out from under the thumb of Miss Starvenger, who runs the boardinghouse she lives in after her mother died. Anything but work in the aether factories, where girls simply fade away after too much exposure to the stuff. Instead, she decides to steal a sword from the Royal Museum to pay for her keep. But the sword turns out to be magical, and it chooses her to bestow superpowers upon, much to her (and Prince Jasper’s) dismay. Lark has no desire to be a hero, but she eventually realizes that the ideals her mother had fought for are more important than her own comfort and safety. And, more importantly, she learns that she can’t go it alone. The cast of secondary characters is a huge strength of this book, as Lark begrudgingly lets them into her life. And kids will also appreciate the cool steampunk brand of magic and the story’s quick pacing. Lark may be a reluctant superhero, but the Nightingale must save the day!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author for review purposes. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Deva Fagan (she/her) is the author of Rival Magic, Nightingale, Circus Galacticus and other books for young readers. She lives in Maine with her husband and her dog. When she’s not writing she spends her time reading, playing video games, doing geometry, and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Deva’s Top Ten Addictions
1. Tea: My love for tea is very, very intense, but very, very specific. If it is very strong Assam or Orange Pekoe with a bit of milk I will drink gallons a day, otherwise I am not interested.
2. Washi Tape: This is the most fun part of keeping a paper journal (sometimes I think I keep a journal more as an excuse to buy washi tape and stickers than for the organizational benefits). But there’s something so mediative and fun about sitting down each Sunday to decorate the next week’s spread with mushrooms and dragons and flowers and robots!
3. Video Games: Playing video games is, to me, just another way to engage with stories. My favorite games tend to be emotional and complex, with gorgeous animation, like Gris, Dragon Age, and my current obsession: running around fighting robot dinosaurs in Horizon Forbidden West.
4. 1SE: I started keeping a one-second-a-day video diary this year using the 1SE (One Second Everyday) app on my phone, and it’s been so fun and such a great way to remind myself to value the little joys and wonders of each day. My February mashup is on my Instagram Reels if you are curious to see!
5. Almond Croissants: To me, these are the Perfect Pastry. Even better if purchased in Paris and eaten in the Luxembourg Gardens.
6. Travel: This addiction has been harder to indulge during the pandemic, but we did manage a trip out to Arizona last fall to see Sedona’s glorious red rocks and the Grand Canyon. Some of my favorite past trips have been to the Cotswolds, Venice and Paris, and I dream of someday visiting Greece, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona, New Zealand, Iceland, and Japan!
7. Hot Baths: Especially during the long, dark Maine winters! I unwind at the end of the day with a hot bath by candlelight, and love to spend the time dreaming about new book ideas.
8. Drawing: I used to draw all the time as a kid, but fell out of the practice in high school and beyond. But a few years ago I decided to try to get back into it, using my iPad and the Procreate app, and it’s been such a great, satisfying creative outlet that (unlike my writing) is just for me, no pressure, purely for the joy of it.
9. Audiobooks: I love my dog but he is happiest if he gets a lot of exercise (and it’s good for me too) so I spend a big chunk of each day walking. So I am thrilled that we live in a world where so many excellent books are available in audio editions, since it lets me use that walking time to read. I just recently listened to THE LAST CUENTISTA by Donna Barba Higuera and it was fantastic!
10. Silent/Slowliving Vlogs: The last few years have been anxiety-producing to say the least. I find myself longing for any scrap of comfort or peace I can find, and thus I’ve become a bit obsessed with a bunch of vloggers who document their cozy/peaceful daily lives: cooking, crafting, playing with pets, gardening, etc. My current favorites are Li Ziqi, Choki, and rizki.
I will confess that I’ve never heard of silent/slowliving vlogs, but they do sound intriguing, and relaxing. And, like Deva, I’m obsessed with audiobooks (yep, perfect for listening to while playing with my active pup). I always love these top ten lists!
Deva has been generous enough to offer up a hardcover copy of THE MIRRORWOOD and a paperback of NIGHTINGALE as a giveaway! Enter to win by following the instructions on the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open anywhere The Book Depository ships (INT).