Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

*Check out the author’s response to this post! (Comment below.) How exciting that Michelle Zink is already working on the third book in the series. I can’t wait for the second one to come out!prophecy

In honor of Halloween, I thought I should feature a dark novel, and this one, a sort of fantasy-thriller, is absolutely perfect for a chilly October afternoon. It opens in a cemetery, on the day of Lia’s father’s funeral. She and her twin sister Alice, along with their little brother, are now orphans. Lia is grief-stricken, and her mourning is intensified by the appearance of a strange, circular mark on her wrist. It’s the sign of the jorgamund, a snake eating its own tail. Instictively, Lia knows to say nothing about it — not to her friends, not to her aunt, not even to Alice, her twin sister. Especially not to Alice.

Thanks in part to a mysterious book discovered among her father’s possessions, Lia begins to suspect that the jorgamund is part of an ancient prophecy, one that’s been turning sister against sister for thousands of years. Now, Lia and Alice have inherited the curse. One twin is destined to be the Guardian, the other, the Gate; one to protect the world from evil, the other, to invite evil in. It seems crazy at first, but when Lia meets another girl with a similar mark on her wrist, she can no longer deny the forces at work within and around her. But what exactly is her role in the prophecy? Is she the good twin or the evil twin? And what can she do to keep the demons at bay?

This novel has all the ingredients of a good gothic suspense story and then some: countryside estates, seances, messages from the dead, hellish creatures threatening the world’s ruin, and even the threat of sibling murder. I’m warning you, it’s dark. Just look at the cover! (But isn’t the cover awesome, though?)


Hoot and Scat by Carl Hiaasen

HootI know what you’re thinking. Hoot? Are you serious? That book is likScate seven years old! Ms. Ryan is just getting around to reading it? And my answer, sadly, is yes; after receiving dozens of recommendations, I finally listened to Hoot this weekend, on CD, in my car. Last spring, I read Scat, which was brand new at the time. That’s right, I didn’t let the dust settle on that one.

Both novels, as some of you know, are funny, are set in Florida, and feature middle-school kids going up against big, bad corporations in the name of endangered animals. Here’s a fact. I liked Scat so much that I drove down to Southern Florida this summer and visited the Everglades. It was just as wild and weird and beautiful as Hiaasen promised. Wow. (Photos of the trip available for interested readers.)

In Scat, the animal in danger is the Florida Panther; in Hoot, it’s the Burrowing Owl. Some other characters you will encounter on the pages of these uproarious books: a barefoot running boy, a fake-fart champion, a scary Science teacher with a collection of real stuffed animals, a boy who snacks on pencils, a pancake house spokeswoman, several renegade eco-activitsts, and a few regular kids to whom you might actually relate.

Seriously, don’t wait seven years. Give these a try