The Beckoning Shadow

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. (Contagion: Bk. 1). Jul. 2019. 480p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062657619.
Gr 9 Up–Vesper is on the run, sleeping beneath overpasses and in abandoned churches. Two years ago, she realized the thing her parents should have feared was her…right before she destroyed them and ran. She steps off the bus in another new place and walks right into the world she’s been running from: a blue Queen of Poisons flower dried and tacked to a door. This is a death sentence from the Wardens who make sure that Oddities are dealt with and the world is safe for real people. A cup of coffee seems like a good idea but ends up as another chance for her magic to take control and ruin her world again—forever. Innocent people are hurt, and the police draw their guns. The youth who save Vesper from her folly show her a whole new world of danger and hope and an opportunity to change and save everything. She has to try, even if it means her death. Poetry fans will appreciate quotations from William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” throughout the novel, and the message it sends. This story of magic, hope, death, friendship, and family will engage teen readers.
VERDICT Offering a taste of the mystical, a great voice and dialogue, and well-written questions that address teen angst, the book reads like Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart meets Barry Lyga’s The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. A solid choice for YA libraries

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