By RAMONA PRICE
Sometimes you just want to escape to another world. Luckily, fantasy is great for that and the San Diego County Library has you covered with some great reads. All these books are available for request at sdcl.org and in ebook at www.sdcl.overdrive.com.
If you like fairy tales and strong female characters, check out “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik. The cozy valley where Agnieszka lives is bordered by a malevolent Wood, its evil influence only kept at bay by the powerful, mysterious wizard known only as the Dragon. While the Dragon’s powers allow the inhabitants of the valley to live happy, peaceful lives, he demands a steep price for his protection: every 10 years he takes a young woman to live with and serve him in his fortified tower. To everyone’s surprise, he chooses clumsy, awkward Agnieszka, and that choice changes everything, not just for her, but for the Dragon, the valley, and the Wood.
If epic fantasy is your thing, take a look at “Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. Framed as tavern owner Kvothe telling his life story, it is full of amazing characters, thorough world-building, and a detailed plot. Orphaned when his parents were violently murdered by mysterious assailants, Kvothe spends most of his childhood on the streets of a dangerous city, but never forgets his parents’ deaths, and his desire to learn the truth eventually leads him to university to study magic. Despite the many distractions of friends, women, and rivals, he remains diligent in his studies with the intention of uncovering the identity of his parents’ assassins and exacting his revenge.
Winning multiple awards, “The Fifth Season” by NK Jemisin weaves a complex tale with themes of loss, regret, and the consequences of oppression. In the world known as the Stillness, orogenes are people with the power to move and reshape the earth. They are both despised by the public and exploited by the ruling class to consolidate their power. Told from the perspectives of three orogenic women in different parts of their lives, this book explores what happens when people with powerful abilities are systematically feared and oppressed for generations, leading to potentially devastating effects for the whole world.
“Magyk” by Angie Sage is a great series starter for middle-grade readers. In the walled city known as the Castle, wizards Sarah and Silas Heap are grieving the loss of their newborn seventh son, Septimus, when they are asked to conceal the queen’s baby daughter after a coup by the Darke wizard DomDaniel results in the queen’s death. Ten years later, the princess is still living happily as part of the Heap family, when they get the word that they’ve been betrayed, and DomDaniel is coming for her. Will she escape? Will DomDaniel keep ruling over the Castle? And what really happened to Septimus?
Another great read for middle-grade and teen readers is “The Amulet of Samarkand” by Jonathan Stroud, which takes place in an alternate London where magicians rule over the common folk, and they get their powers by summoning and enslaving spirits from another realm. After being humiliated by the powerful magician Simon Lovelace, 12-year-old apprentice Nathaniel summons the djinni Bartimaeus to get even by stealing the Amulet of Samarkand, a powerful magical protector and Simon’s greatest treasured possession. Now, Bartimaeus is just over being a slave to the magicians, but he must do Nathaniel’s bidding or be painfully punished. He steals the amulet but is pursued and caught and a wild adventure of power-hungry politicians and the spirits who do their bidding begins.
The La Mesa Library is now offering door-side pick-up of requested materials. Visit sdcl.org or call us at 619-469-2151 to order books, movies, and CDs. We’ll let you know when they’re available for pick-up and you can stop by to grab them. For the latest news on the library’s reopening plans, visit www.sdcl.org or follow the La Mesa Library on Facebook.
— Ramona Price is a librarian at the La Mesa branch of the San Diego County Library.