Polly Shulman

Eleven-year-old Mark misses London and his dad in Michael Marshall Smith?s The Servants. He dislikes his stepfather’s house in Brighton, where his mother is getting sicker every day. Visiting an old lady in the basement flat, he meets a mysterious household of servants: Are they ghosts, dreams, memories, or merely symbols?

For Fans of… Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting.

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Valen, a dyslexic sorcerer on the run from his abusive family, takes refuge in a monastery, bringing a book of maps that can lead humans into the shadowy home of the supernatural Danae. Unfortunately, he can’t read it. Can he find a way to preserve civilization from fanatics and warring princes in Carol Berg’s Flesh and Spirit?

For Fans of… George R.R. Martin; Anne Bishop.

Bottom Line Moments of colorful intensity highlight this workmanlike coming-of-age adventure. B

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In The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Fiery-haired Kvothe finds his circus troupe slain, their wagons burning with blue flames. He wants revenge, but first heads to arcanists’ university to learn magic.

Hottie Factor ”With his eyes and those hands there won’t be a woman safe in all the world when he starts hunting after the ladies,” Kvothe’s mom says of her son.

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In Kathleen Bryan’s The Serpent and the Rose, Averil, magic-trained heir to the duchy of Quitaine, teams with powerful peasant Gereint to stop the evil King of Lys before he unleashes chaos.

For Fans of… Elizabeth Haydon, Terry Goodkind.

Lowdown Well-thought-through magic, convincing medieval details, and likable characters make for a pleasant adventure. B

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The young hero of Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury’s 1957 classic of hallucinatory Americana, haunts Farewell Summer, the autumnal sequel. Now 13, he leads a ”Great Army” of boys, faces down ghosts in a haunted house, suffers his first kiss, and takes on time itself — but the magic is symbolic, not literal.

For Fans of… Sherwood Anderson and Bradbury.

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It’s 2015, the height of the nano-medical revolution, and NervePath programmers have figured out how to rewrite the psyche. An idealistic Brit psychologist teams with a sexy, part-Cherokee FBI agent and a shadowy kingpin to avert, or at least mitigate, universal mind control.

For Fans of…Brave New World or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, if they met Thomas Pynchon in a cybercafé.

Lowdown A lyrical, attentively written anti-utopia.

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In a new series with all the magic of a PowerPoint presentation, Terry Brooks’ Armageddon’s Children focuses on the here and now — or at least the nearby and soon. Dark days have come to what used to be the U.S. Surviving humans cower in armed compounds or scrabble across a poisoned landscape scavenging for bottled water and packaged snacks, while mutants — Lizards, Croaks, Spiders, Moles, and worse — scavenge for the scavengers.

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A young man wakes up in a dreamlike landscape where he has strange powers but no memory. Is he a superhero? A cyborg? The resident of a virtual reality? The last man on earth? Alas, the answers will come as no surprise to anyone who’s seen The Matrix. Funny thing is, Nick Sagan clearly has. The son of astronomer Carl Sagan has written scripts for Star Trek: Voyager – and his influences show.

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