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Shadow Storm
New York, 1895 As supernatural forces threaten the city, new Reapers Guild recruit Genie Gearhart is ready to hunt monsters and undo curses while modeling perfect femininity according to Miss Haversham's Primer for Proper Young Ladies, 1895 edition. Genie tackles her first mission, a haunting in Brooklyn, with partner and brother Hans. But as they investigate the ghost, it comes clear that something far worse, an Abominable Evil, threatens the good people of the five boroughs. Genie seeks help from Alice Walker, a high-society lady and airship captain, whose weapons are as elegant as they are deadly. But Alice ends up captured! Will Genie have the courage, smarts, and manners necessary to remain a lady as she rescues Alice and conquers unmentionable horrors? The answer lies in the primer for proper young ladies, which says: In these modern times a girl can do anything!

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: In this futuristic YA novel set in historic 1895 New York City, bionic Crimsonfall Reapers Genie Gearhart, her brother Hans, and Alice Walker are tasked with hunting monsters, such as the Abominations called Mistlings, undoing curses, and otherwise protecting the citizenry from everything from supernatural nuisances to life-threatening evil. Their job, however, is complicated by the requirement that Genie conform at all times to Miss Haversham’s Primer for Proper Young Ladies, 1895 edition, creating such conundrums as, how do you effect a proper introduction to a street gang?

Prose/Style: The book is full of wonderfully detailed visual images presented in straightforward sentences that make the story easily accessible. Jordan Brooks Hill presents the parameters of her created world in well-integrated and easily assimilated passages as the story progresses, enticing the reader to come along on the adventure. We learn about Skycracks and the Scourge, Curseweavers, Clankers, Faraday cages, and Sprocket’s goo.

Originality: An unusual premise, inventive machines (The Pneumatic Omni-Directional Ventilator, for example), and a wide array of other-worldly ghastly and ghostly beings and doings make this a wonderfully entertaining story that will appeal to adult as well as junior high and high school readers.

Character Development/Execution: Genie and Hans are twenty-somethings just learning their jobs in this world fraught with danger. Alice Walker is a rich socialite and airship captain who is truly a delight with her not-at-all-proper take on nineteenth century New York. Many other characters, human and not, inhabit the story, each a distinct personality that Hill describes succinctly and convincingly.

Date Submitted: August 21, 2021

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