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Cassie Crowe
The Wayward Haunt
Cas E Crowe, author
In a war-torn world, teenage prisoner Zaya Wayward is conscripted into the Haxsan Guard, but when malevolent forces haunt her, she suspects her ability to see the dead is the key in a sinister plot to annihilate human existence.
Nineteen year-old- Zaya Wayward is trapped. Imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit in a brutal “re-education facility” that aims to subdue zealots with labor and control, she spends her days dreaming of one thing: freedom. Yet five days before her next escape attempt, Zaya’s plans are forever changed when she’s conscripted into the Haxsan Guard, an elite military band of magicians who protect the world’s leading Council as well as all of Earth’s inhabitants. Zaya’s distant-future Earth has been completely restructured by natural disasters into a severe and unfriendly planet rife with radiation, storms, and monstrous creatures due to unknown causes. As a side effect, humanity has been ravaged by a virus that created two distinct groups: humans–who can only survive in Earth’s hostile climate with the help of inhalers and special radiation suits–and “casters,” or magic-users, who develop their own unique powers. As she transforms from prisoner to master caster, Zaya grapples with the truth of her power and her past all while uncovering the secrets of the mysterious woman who has long haunted her dreams.

Polished and sharply written, The Wayward Haunt grabs readers’ attention from the opening line of its prologue (“Ghosts haunt dreams”) and doesn’t let go until its thrilling conclusion. Case blends humor and intrigue in her literary debut to great effect, creating a protagonist that readers will root for from start to finish. Thriller lovers and romance fans alike will find much to love in this paranormal adventure, from the supernatural battles that Zaya must fight, to her alliance with Captain Jad Arden, who simultaneously infuriates and intrigues her.

Despite its designation as “YA,” The Wayward Haunt is written with maturity and depth that will appeal to fantasy-minded readers of any age. Equal parts spooky and engrossing, Zaya’s adventure verges on epic, with plenty of magic, war, drama, and darkness. Readers will be thrilled to learn that a sequel is currently in the works.

Takeaway: Mysteries and magic abound in this stellar YA fantasy debut.

Great for fans of: Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-