2 Middle Grade Tales of Fantastic Origins | Spotlight

Two girls discover their surprising supernatural ancestry in these fantasy-adventure novels rooted in fairy tales and mythology.

Two girls discover their surprising supernatural ancestry in these fantasy-adventure novels rooted in fairy tales and mythology.


LEWERS, Nedda. Daughters of the Lamp. 352p. (Daughters of the Lamp: Bk. 1). Putnam. Feb. 2024. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593619308.
Gr 3-7–Past and present combine in this story about magic and adventure in modern Egypt. Sahara dreams of a summer spent with friends at an amusement park, but instead she is going to her uncle’s wedding in Egypt. Sahara is disappointed, but also curious about her parents’ homeland and especially about her late mother. Sahara becomes enchanted with Egypt; her family shares stories, food, and love. One night Sahara’s mother’s necklace starts glowing, and the next day it disappears. There is evil lurking; the beautiful bride-to-be may be a witch! Also told in alternating chapters is the story of Morgana, a servant to Ali Baba, who lived long ago and has been entrusted with caring and protecting magical items from those with dark intentions. Can Morgana protect the treasures from dark sorcerers? Will Sahara find her necklace and reveal the true intentions of the nightmare bride? Lewers blends culture, fairy tales, and mystery into a memorable story that will resonate with fans of “Percy Jackson.” VERDICT Highly recommended, this book encapsulates unique characters, mystery, and fairy tales in a novel that readers will devour.–Katie Llera

MARSH, Katherine. Medusa. 288p. (Myth of ­Monsters: Bk 1). HarperCollins/Clarion. Feb. 2024. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063303744.
Gr 3-6–Ava Baldwin, 12, is tired of being bullied by Owen and loses her cool; her dark hair pops out like snakes and suddenly he’s literally frozen. The next morning, her mother sends Ava and her brother Jax to the exclusive school she attended in Venice. The school is run by the Olympians, and incoming students must be tested to know which mythological Greek monster they are descended from. When Ava finds out she is related to Medusa (who is still alive), she embarks on an adventure with her friends—a Harpy, a Chimera, and an Empusa—to uncover the true story of Medusa, give voice to the goddesses who have been silenced by male gods, and perhaps find her own purpose. While this story fits into the increasingly popular modernized mythology trope, it puts a different spin on it from the perspective of the “villains” and will appeal to a younger audience. However, the theme of women being oppressed by the male gods is presented in such a didactic manner that it detracts from the powerful message. ­Medusa is described as black-haired with her skin glowing golden brown; Ava is depicted as having the same skin color in the cover illustration. Many other characters are described as pale-skinned when appearance is mentioned. Missing is additional information about Greek mythology, the monsters, and Medusa. VERDICT A story flipping traditional mythology and the voices telling them on their head starring a resourceful, brave ­Gorgon. Suggested where mythology stories are popular.–Clare A. Dombrowski

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