by Anna Campbell
I'm venturing on Trish Milburn territory today. Trish does wonderful reviews here on the 10th of every month in Teen Menu, telling us about the latest and greatest in young adult fiction.
A good friend recommended WARPED by Maurissa Guibord. Wow, I'm so glad she did. And it seems I'm not alone in my admiration for this new author - WARPED is up for two RITA awards this year as best young adult romance and best first book of 2011. Pretty darn impressive.
And the book is pretty darn impressive. I just couldn't put it down. Which is a pity as I was visiting said friend at the time and she was sort of hoping to get a bit of conversation from her guest and not just, "Leave me alone, I'm reading!!!! Oh, and, yes, you can make me another cup of tea. And were any of those Ferrero Rochers left?" I wonder if she'll ever ask me back to visit!
Tessa Brody is a teen trying to come to terms with her artist mother's death in a car accident and her father's grief. When her father, a wonderful shambolic character, who owns a used book store in Maine, buys a job lot at an auction, an old tapestry of a unicorn included in the box draws Tessa in a way she can't explain. Little does she know (don't you love books where it's little that the heroine knows?) that this chance occurrence will lure her into danger and adventure and a quest to restore the balance of the world. Not to mention into the arms of gorgeous 16th-century earl's son, William de Chaucy, who is one of the more charming heroes I've read in a while.
In his own time, Will is a bit of a misfit, destined to go into the church or the army but too curious about his world to fit easily into either career. When he visits the 21st century, Will is enchanted by everything he sees. Shades of the lovely hero of A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux if any of you have read that classic.
It's hard to describe this book without giving too much away. One of the great pleasures of reading it is the surprising directions it takes. There's Norse Mythology, reincarnation, time travel, some beautifully done historical scenes, paranormal elements, a really complex and interesting baddie, a "save the world by tomorrow or you'll REALLY regret it" plot, deep emotional resonance with some moving scenes of reconciliation. It's funny too - Tessa's date with the high school hottie will have you snickering like a loon. Well, I snickered like a loon, you'll probably snicker like a sane person!
The romance is touching and sweet and packs a surprising emotional wallop. Tessa is a great heroine - brave, resourceful, wry, self-aware and daring. You'll have gathered Will is a darling and a real knight in shining armor too. The characters around Tessa are beautifully realized from her father who's gradually and painfully trying to make his way back to life after his wife's death to Tessa's madcap bohemian friend Opal.
This is a wonderful, clever, fun read. As beautifully wrought as a medieval tapestry! Highly recommended even if you don't usually veer toward YA.
So do you read YA? Any recommendations? Are you a time travel fan? I love them but I don't see so many around now. Pity! Have you read any of the other RITA finalists this year? Any thoughts?