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Identical twins are also at the center of Anne Ursu’s THE LOST GIRL (Walden Pond/HarperCollins, 368 pp., $16.99; ages 8 to 12). They’re physically alike, but Lark is dreamy and creative while Iris is outgoing and fact-oriented. They have always looked out for each other — but in fifth grade, for the first time, they are put into separate classes. Devastated, the girls struggle with this new reality, Lark withdrawing into a world of her own while Iris frets and worries about her. With every difficult situation, Iris becomes more alarmed. How is she to take care of Lark if they are in different classes? Distraught, Iris gravitates to a strange new antique shop in town run by the eccentric Mr. Green, while elsewhere things big and small start to go missing.

Told by a mysterious narrator, the story gets darker and darker as the foolhardy and desperately unhappy Iris stumbles in her attempts to help her sister. Yet the book’s somber moments are balanced by lighter ones, especially those featuring Iris’s classmates and the energetic girls of her after-school Awesome Club, all of whom she has discounted in her self-absorption, but who turn out to be supportive, and critical at the end.

While the bulk of “The Lost Girl” is set in a realistic world, the final section is suffused with magic. Capturing with piercing accuracy Iris’s evolving anguish, Ursu (“The Real Boy”) ends this passionate and complex story with a celebration of sibling autonomy, youthful agency and the power of friends.


Eleven-year-old Fionn, the hero of Catherine Doyle’s debut middle-grade novel, THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND (Bloomsbury, 304 pp., $16.99; ages 8 to 12), is also miserable. Having never known his father, who died shortly before he was born, he is close to his mother — but she has sent him and his sister to their grandfather’s island while she recovers from depression. The whispering wind and magical landscape that greet Fionn make it immediately clear that this island is not ordinary. Nor is their grandfather, the Storm Keeper, who has long kept dark forces at bay with the handcrafted candles that fill his cottage. Now, having grown forgetful, the old man is ready to cede his place.

While the siblings bicker constantly, Fionn is still hurt when his sister abandons him to search for the legendary Sea Cave with her new crush, who wants to use the place’s single wish to become the next Storm Keeper, bypassing the tradition of the sentient island making the selection. Wanting the wish to somehow get his father back and then to help his mother, Fionn tries to find the cave before them, discovering along the way more clarity about his own past as well as a growing awareness of the evil lurking deep below in the island.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/books/review/fantasy-novels.html

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