By Kayla Huynh
As Youtube and Netflix have slowly dwindled down in the engagement factor, books have once again become my solace amongst the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. Curling up with a good book and steaming cup of tea just makes the world seem okay for a few moments. Not only that, but books give me a break from the stress of online school.
In particular, I have been enjoying YA fiction. These high-quality stories with gripping plots, swoon worthy romance, and cruel and mythical monsters have carved a large portion of my bookshelf. For those who want to dabble in the “written arts,” I have a few recommendations.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (Barnes and Noble $10.99)
Parallel to the Mulan storyline, Maia Tamarin finds herself at the mercy of the emperor after she has taken the place of her father in a competition to become an imperial tailor. The competition borderlines on insanity, and her task is complicated when magic interferes with not only her skills, but her heart. As the nation enters a teetering alliance, she is forced to seek the essence of the sun, moon, and stars, or die trying. She would risk her life for her family, but after all the turmoil she has been through, she may find that she has given too much. This two part series will grip your heart and mind to follow the path of a young girl with dreams too big for her own head.
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco (Barnes and Noble $10.99)
This tale follows Okiku, a restless spirit stuck between worlds due to her brutal death more than 300 years ago. In the aftermath of her sad fate, she follows those who would viscously take the lives of children. Her vengeance is cruel, and she has no remorse for the wicked. But on a hunt, a tattooed boy has captured her attention. The darkness seems to follow him, binding to the ink on his skin as a symbol of his past. Perhaps they both have secrets that should have been left for the dead, but this story knows best that the dead do not always rest.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Barnes and Noble $12.99)
Sharpen your blade and harden your heart, for you are about to enter the treacherous world of the High Court of Faerie. In the first installment in Holly Black’s thrilling trilogy, this lush and dangerous book introduces the true terrors of Fey. Jude, a young girl who was stolen away ten years ago after her parents were murdered, fights for a place among the fey who despise her. She must counter those who would rather have her dead, including Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedist son of the High King. To earn her place amongst the magic, she must defy him- and find the true meaning of power.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (hardcover Target $14.99)
In a gripping mystery surrounding the murder of beloved Andie Bell by her boyfriend, Pippa Firtz-Amobi decides to reexamine the closed case for her final senior project. She soon discovers a trail of dark secrets that may turn the case around, but someone is trying to push her away. As the line between past and present blur, Pippa is thrust into facing the darkness in her small town and the reality of her own investigation turned obsession. With an ending you’ll never expect, this guide is the “perfect nail-biting mystery” (Natasha Preston, New York Times bestselling author).
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (Barnes and Noble $12.99)
Twisted from del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth, this epic and dark fantasy takes readers deep into 1944 Nazi held Europe. In the midst of a sinister, magical, and war torn place, characters including trickster fauns, a lost princess, and a murderous wolf flit between the pages in epic battles and unsettling short stories. At every turn, a monster lurks in the shadows that make children fear making a noise at night. With haunting illustrations coming to flesh between chapters, this brilliant collaboration between masterful storytellers is not one to be missed.