FICTION

The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities: New Stories About Mythic Heroes

Rick Riordan Presents. Sept. 2021. 496p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368070836.
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Gr 4-8–Ten Rick Riordan Presents authors, including Riordan himself, share myths from Korean, Mexican, Native American, Cuban, Indian, and Mesopotamian cultures, among others. The collection is cohesive, with common threads of adventure and kid-friendly humor. Most of the stories are set in the present; only two myths have historic/otherworldly settings: Riordan’s Irish yarn of mythical warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill and Ha Lee’s space-based tale “The Initiation.” Some authors use their myths as vehicles for themes such as cultural pride (Rebecca Roanhorse’s “The Demon Drum”), Black history (Kwame Mbalia’s “The Gum Baby Files”), and immigration (Sarwat Chadda’s “The Loneliest Demon”). Readers can reunite with Sal and Gabi in Carlos Hernandez’s “Calamity Juice” and adventure with Aru’s sisters in Roshani Chokshi’s “Beware the Grove of True Love.” Most offerings are told in first person, and readers may find it difficult to quickly identify the hero, setting, and premise without careful reading. Many myths also assume prior knowledge of the authors’ other stories and, to avoid confusion, should be read by series fans. While some can be enjoyed as stand-alone tales, other entries are aimed at readers who have read Rick Riordan Presents stories and want more from the “Multiverse Mansion” of beloved characters and authors.
VERDICT An entertaining collection recommended for libraries that own other Rick Riordan Presents titles.

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