Cathedral of Bones

HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2021. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062934796.
Gr 5 Up–In this grand, steampunk-infused tale, a boy discovers that he has powerful magic—including the ability to kill a god. Fourteen-year-old Simon underperformed miserably throughout his Animist training and now works in the mail room of Foundation Headquarters in Eidendel, the seat of magic and law (think the Ministry of Magic). Tired of being bullied and feeling useless, he decides to go against orders and help the people of a tiny hamlet far from the city deal with a monster. Except the monster turns out to be Alice, who is part girl and part squid and sometimes all dragon. In order to aid Alice, who remembers nothing of her past, Simon must face his own past, which includes the tragic death of his twin sister, the disappearance of his mother, and debilitating illness and depression. Every step of their quest uncovers more mysteries and lies and unlocks more power in Simon. Strong worldbuilding is matched with breathtaking adventure, a touch of romance, and compelling characters, especially Simon, who undertakes the transformation from boy to man in an amazingly relatable way. Alice, too, shows strength and grace as she deals with the aftermath of terrifying experimentation. All characters present as white.
VERDICT Thought-provoking and entertaining in equal measure, and here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of Simon and Alice.

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