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Red Queen

By Victoria Aveyard, HarperTeen, 400 pages, $21.99

of one's blood. Mare Barrow, the 17-year-old heroine of this story, is a Red, making her as lower class, subject to ill treatment at the hands of the Silvers. A chance meeting with a member of the royal family results in Mare, once a pickpocket, working as a servant in the palace and beginning to integrate herself into the Silvers' lofty world. As an insurrection by the Reds gets under way, Mare must choose between leading the uprising, or trying to better her quality of life, though it will mean an existence of artifice and deception. It's a fun, fast-paced read with some grit. Notes of The Hunger Games, a touch of the Harry Potter universe and the far-off impression left by an Austen heroine create the atmosphere here. And it is always welcome to find a book aimed at young women featuring one and also written by one.

Story continues below advertisement

Best Friends Through Eternity

By Sylvia McNicoll, Tundra Books, 192 pages, $19.99

Influenced by the true story of a teenager who died at a railway crossing, Sylvia McNicoll has written a supernatural fiction that aims to fill in the blanks of a tragic death. After being abandoned as a baby in China, Paige is adopted and grows up in Canada. She struggles with bullies at school and one day takes a different route along some train tracks to avoid them. Upon her premature death, she enters into a hazy, dreamlike afterlife. There she meets Kim, a former best friend who Paige believed had moved away seven years before. In a hazy purgatorial dream, Paige is offered the chance to relive the last week of her life. The tone is fresh and feels present-day appropriate, challenging stereotypes, racism and how families integrate into Canadian culture. Don't be fooled by the cover; this novel takes place largely after death has occurred, though it remains lively throughout.

Shadow Scale

By Rachel Hartman, Doubleday Canada, 608 pages, $23

The anticipation for the sequel to the multiple award-winning debut novel Seraphina is palpable. Seraphina, half-human, half-dragon, searches for other beings who are the same hybrid species as she is, which is a secret she must keep for her own safety. Exceptionally gifted in music, she cannot play in public and must avoid attracting attention to herself to avoid persecution. The dragons and humans in this world live side-by-side after a truce, though it is the humans who seem more barbaric, violent and dangerous, while the dragons are deeply rational, intelligent and calm. Hartman's prose is delicate, complex and gorgeous, and the world of these books is lushly articulated. The character of Seraphina herself is particularly well-conceived, as readers are privy to her private thoughts and fears, as well as how she interacts with the world around her. Another deeply wonderful, attention-deserving offering that should be picked up, and soon.

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