Off the Shelf: Two local YA authors and one wild trilogy

Summer is coming, which means it’s time to start crafting your summer reading list.

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

Traitor Angels in the eerie memorial park on Hampton Street

Traitor Angels in the eerie memorial park on Hampton Street

In 1666 England, King Charles II sits on the throne and the Great Fire of London approaches. In Anne Blankman’s 1666 England, John Milton’s imprisoned by the king and his daughter, Elizabeth Milton, must save him. Elizabeth (and an attractive Italian scientist, Antonio Vivani) must uncover secrets hidden within her father’s masterpiece, Paradise Lost. There’s sword fighting, fancy clothing, horse chases, disguises, literary references, and a really big fire. This YA historical thriller by a Richmond resident is a must for this summer’s vacation reading list.

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Burn Baby Burn on the bridge to Texas Beach

Burn Baby Burn on the bridge to Texas Beach

Another piece of YA historical fiction by another local author! Meg Medina transports the reader to New York City in the summer of 1977. Noteworthy events include the Son of Sam murders and the disastrous blackout. With the city in a general state of paranoia and anxiety, Nora Lopez is on the brink of graduating high school. She dreams of escaping her complicated and violent home life, but societal road blocks continue to take shape. Luckily, she has a strong community (and an endearing love interest) to guide her through. Packed with strong female characters and a killer soundtrack, prepare to lose yourself in disco beats and car rides.

Ravicka Trilogy by Renee Gladman

The Ravicka Trilogy in a Carytown alley.

The Ravicka Trilogy in a Carytown alley.

These three small, strange books create a trilogy steeped in allegory and architecture. Each has its own voice, but all three read like _Meshes of the Afternoon_ viewings. I highly recommend sitting alone, near an urban landscape (i.e., an alleyway), and reading all three in a row.

Event Factory follows a linguist-traveler as she explores the confusing city of Ravicka. Ravicka is in a state of social upheaval. The unnamed narrator knows the language of Ravicka, deeply steeped in acts of gesticulation, but finds it difficult to translate her knowledge into the true experience of the place. This reads like science fiction, but addresses the difficulties and confusion of moving through this world.

In The Ravickians, a group of writers gather to discuss the crisis that grips their city. The writers share tenderness for one another as well as a profound love for their city. As Ravicka corrodes around them, their words falter, their concept of reality breaks, and even their dialogue becomes mashed into strings of words from unsure voices that begin to form a singular entity.

Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge is a poetic ode to architecture, to literature, and to experience. Told from the perspective of Ana Patova, a character introduced in the prior novels, this book reads like an epic poem. Gorgeous and haunting, this book ties this trilogy together. With a surreal voice, Ana Patova meditates on identity in the absence of place. As you reach the end, you’ll want to start at the beginning. You’ll also start seeing your daily life in a whole new light.

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Julie Glover

Julie spends every day surrounded by books and cats. She’s fairly convinced her life is a dream, and she’s always accepting book recommendations to add to her ever-growing to-read pile.

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