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Written by Janni Lee SimnerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Janni Lee Simner

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: January 27, 2009
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89243-1
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so 15-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza’s world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Then Liza discovers she has the Faerie ability to see—into the past, into the future—and she has no choice but to flee her town. Liza’s quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

Janni Lee Simner’s first novel for young adults is a dark fairy-tale twist on apocalyptic fiction—as familiar as a nightmare, yet altogether unique.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

* Chapter 1 *

I had a sister once. She was a beautiful baby, eyes silver as moonlight off the river at night. From the hour of her birth she was long-limbed and graceful, faerie-pale hair clear as glass from Before, so pale you could almost see through to the soft skin beneath.

My father was a sensible man. He set her out on the hillside that very night, though my mother wept and even old Jayce argued against it. "If the faerie folk want her, let them take her," Father said. "If not, the fault's theirs for not claiming one of their own." He left my sister, and he never looked back.

I did. I crept out before dawn to see whether the faeries had really come. They hadn't, but some wild creature had. One glance was all I could take. I turned and ran for home, telling no one where I'd been.

We were lucky that time, I knew. I'd heard tales of a woman who bore a child with a voice high and sweet as a bird's song--and with the sharp claws to match. No one questioned that baby's father when he set the child out to die, far from our town, far from where his wife lay dying, her insides torn and bleeding.

Magic was never meant for our world, Father said, and of course I'd agreed, though the War had ended and the faerie folk returned to their own places before I was born. If only they'd never stirred from those places--but it was no use thinking that way.

Besides, I'd heard often enough that our town did better than most. We knew the rules. Don't touch any stone that glows with faerie light, or that light will burn you fiercer than any fire. Don't venture out alone into the dark, or the darkness will swallow you whole. And cast out the magic born among you, before it can turn on its parents.

Towns had died for not understanding that much. My father was a sensible man.
But the memory of my sister's bones, cracked and bloody in the moonlight, haunts me still.

•Chapter 2 *

Three weeks after my sister's birth I hurried through town, my breath puffing into the chilly air and an empty bucket banging against my hip. The sun was just above the horizon, turning layers of pink cloud to gold. Most of the other townsfolk were already in the fields, their morning chores done.

I walked quickly past the row of whitewashed houses I'd known all my life. Their windows were firmly shuttered or else tacked with old nylon against the cold. My gaze lingered a moment on the gap among those houses, but then I rushed on, thinking about how I'd overslept again that morning, not waking until Father had slammed the door as he left the house--deliberately loud, a warning to me. I'd already been sleeping badly since Father had cast my sister out, my dreams filled with restless shadows and a baby's cries. Then a week ago Mom left us. Since then I'd hardly slept at all, save in the early hours for just long enough to make it hard to wake again.

I passed the last of our town's tended houses; passed, too, the houses we didn't tend, which were little more than tangles of ragweed with splintered wood poking through. At the fork in the path I caught a whiff of metallic steam from Jayce's forge. I headed left. The path skirted the edge of the cornfields, then narrowed. Maples and sycamores grew along its edges, draped with wild grapes. Green tendrils snaked out from the grapevines as I passed. I knew those vines sought skin to root in, so I kept to the path's center, where they couldn't reach. Plants used to be bound firmly to the places where they grew, but that was before the faerie folk came to our world.

No one knew why they came. No one even knew what they looked like. The War happened too fast, and the televisions people once had for speaking to one another all died the first day. Some said the faerie folk looked like trees, with gnarled arms and peeling brown skin. Others said they were dark winged shadows, with only their clear hair and silver eyes visible as they attacked us. Hair like that remained a sure sign a child was tainted with magic.

But whatever the faerie folk looked like, everyone agreed they were monsters. Because once they were here they turned their magic against us, ordering the trees to seek human flesh and the stones to burn with deadly light. Even after the War ended and the faerie folk left this world, the magic they'd set loose lingered, killing still.

The path ended at the river, though another path, narrower still, continued both ways along its near bank. I clambered down a short rocky slope and dipped my bucket into the water. Our well had silted up again, so the river was the only place to draw water for cooking and chores.

When the bucket was full I drew it out again, set it down, and cupped my hands for a drink. As I did a wind picked up, and I shivered. Mom would be cold, out alone on a morning like this. I knew better than to hope she yet lived, but still I whispered as I dipped my hands into the bucket, "Where are you? Where?"

Light flashed. A sickly sweet scent like tree sap filled the air. I jerked my hands back, but I couldn't turn away. The water in the bucket glowed like steel in the sun, holding my gaze. The wind died around me. From somewhere very far away, Mom called my name.

I grabbed a stone and threw it into the bucket. There was a sound like shattering ice, and then the water within was merely water, clouded by ripples and mud from the rock, nothing more.

My mother was gone. Why couldn't I accept that? I must have imagined her voice, just as I'd imagined the way the water had seemed to glow.
Yet I'd seen light like that once before.

The night my sister was born--the night I'd fled from the hillside, where I never should have been--I'd seen flashes at the edges of my sight, like lightning, though the night was clear. I'd ignored them and kept running, calling the name my mother had chosen but only once been able to use. "Rebecca! Rebecca!" My throat and chest had tightened, but I couldn't seem to stop.


From the Hardcover edition.
Janni Lee Simner

About Janni Lee Simner

Janni Lee Simner - Bones of Faerie
JANNI LEE SIMNER lives in the Arizona desert, where the plants know how to bite and even the dandelions have thorns. In spite of these things--or perhaps because of them--she's convinced she lives in one of the most stunning places on Earth. Janni has written the three books of the Bones of Faerie Trilogy--Bones of Faerie, Faerie Winter, and Faerie After--as well as a contemporary Icelandic fantasy, Thief Eyes. She's also published four books for younger readers and more than thirty short stories, including one in the Welcome to Bordertown anthology.
Praise | Awards

Praise

“This book has one of the best first chapters I know—and the rest of the book more than lives up to its promise. Pure, stunning, it is impossible to put down or forget.”—Jane Yolen, winner of the World Fantasy Award

From Booklist:
Simner’s first novel for YAs is an attention-catching twist of two piping-hot speculative scenarios—a postapocalyptic-wasteland journey layered upon a faerie-world-intruding-upon-our-own setup. The mood is strikingly dark, and questions regarding humankind’s tendency toward suspicion and xenophobia will loom large in readers’ minds. This will garner a share of fans for its unusual and unsettling vision of a magically dystopian future.

From VOYA:
Simner creates a fresh, compelling novel in a highly saturated fantasy market. The beginning resonates with tension and pulls the reader into a finely written, multilayered story.

From School Library Journal:
Postapocalyptic fiction and faeries seem an unlikely combination. However, Simner weaves these strands together to produce a thought-provoking and thrilling story about a girl at war with herself and her own magical abilities. In her world, the cities are dead, and the towns and villages have reverted to a preindustrial farming economy. Society has been devastated by a war between humans and faeries. The natural world has turned against people and exhibits a malign intelligence that it uses to ensnare unwary humans. As the story opens, Liza, 15, tells of how her baby sister, who showed the clear hair strands of those with faerie powers, is left on a hillside by her father and killed by wild animals. After her death, Liza's mother leaves the family. When Liza realizes that she is able to see into the past and the future, she runs away to avoid hurting anyone else with her powers. She is joined by her neighbor Matthew, who turns out to have magical abilities of his own. Together they undertake a perilous journey as they search for Liza's mother, and, in the process, gain a greater understanding of the war and the possibility of a new beginning. Simner perfectly captures the sense of danger with her stark prose and ratchets up the tension as readers slowly begin to unravel the terrible truth of what happened to the land of Faerie during the war. The characters are well drawn, and the resolution is deftly handled, being both satisfying and firmly grounded in Liza's emotional reality. Fans of Lois Lowry's trilogy, which includes The Giver, will thoroughly enjoy this novel.

From Kirkus Reviews:
Simner keeps things interesting with a fair amount of action and the constant introduction of new characters. The postapocalyptic environment is haunting but not downright scary-the most frightening things are the people, not the magic. With its dark, sharply imagined world, this will appeal to readers of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2009 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"
WINNER Arizona Young Readers Award
NOMINEE ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
NOMINEE Amelia Bloomer List Recommended Title
NOMINEE Missouri Gateway Readers Award
NOMINEE ALA Best Books for Young Adults

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