A stunningly imagined world, page-turning thrills, and a pair of unlikely heroes on an epic quest make this unique and immersive dark fantasy—from acclaimed author A. J. Steiger—perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kelly Barnhill.
Simon Frost lives in a curious place, where magic is used by the very best Animists to do wondrous things—like call upon imps, wraiths, and all manner of monsters to right wrongs, deliver justice, and accomplish feats no human could achieve.
Simon Frost is not one of those Animists, though he’s been trying to become one for years.
When a plea arrives from a distant hamlet, preyed upon by an abominable monster, Simon sees the opportunity to finally prove his worth.
But upon arriving in the tiny village, Simon finds not just a monster but a key to his past—and a pathway into an unbelievable future.
The Lovecraftian world of Stieger's (When My Heart Joins the Thousand) middle grade debut neatly matches both audience and genre. In the city of Eidendel, the powerful Foundation oversees the training and employment of magic users Animists in the service of the Continent's Queen. Fourteen-year-old Simon Frost, the disappointing, traumatized scion of a powerful Animist family, is languishing in the Foundation's mail room when a small town asks the organization for assistance in dispatching a local monster. Simon knows the Foundation's institutional indifference will result in no official help being sent, so he abandons his position to go to the town's aid. When the monster turns out to be something impossible a tentacled, draconian creature that is also a human child Simon is drawn into a web of conspiracy involving his family, the Foundation, and unspeakable eldritch horrors. Steiger's pervasive, matter-of-fact creepiness begins with small, almost sweet touches imps working as street sweepers and builds in terror as the pages turn. Many of the creatures are beautifully imagined and vividly described, and a prevailing tone of earnestness and hope balances the decay and dread to create an ideal first experience of a horror standby suited to middle graders who don't mind mild gore. Ages 8 12.