My Top 10 MG Speculative Fiction Picks for 2014, Part 1


2014 looks to be a great year for Middle Grade speculative fiction.  While I have my eye on quite a few, I have 10 on my radar that are making my hands sweat and my heart pitter-patter in anticipation.  As you’ll see there are there are dragons and ghosts and quests set in worlds of great wonder.  In other words, there is something to please any 8 – 13 year old who loves sci fi and fantasy.

And now, my first five picks:

Expected Publication date:
6/12/2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Back CoverLucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving, she learns her father is missing: Rumor has it he’s gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that’s ravaging the forests of Saarthe.

Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington’s trail to the deadly woods on Devil’s Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn’t reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.

Expected Publication date:
May 20, 2014 by Amulet Books

Back Cover:  This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut,Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

Expected Publication date:
April 15, 2014 by Kathy Dawson Books

Back Cover:  The Forbidden Library kicks off a brand new classic fantasy series perfect for fans of CoralineInkheart, and The Books of Elsewhere

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Expected Publication date:
May 27, 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books

Back Cover:  When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside-from dishes to candles to apples-torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn’t this in the stories?

To survive, Sand does what he knows best-he fires up the castle’s forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?

Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle’s astonishing secrets and dark history. Putting together the pieces-of stone and iron, and of a broken life-is harder than Sand ever imagined, but it’s the only way to gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.

With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell’s The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Expected Publication date:
March 25, 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Back Cover:  Fans of The City of Ember will love The Mark of the Dragonfly, an adventure story set in a magical world that is both exciting and dangerous.

Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.

The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect–everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.

Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

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About kford2007

As a young Army brat, Reader’s Choice award winner J. (Jenny) Keller Ford, traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles hoping to find the dragons, knights and magic that haunted her imagination. Though she never found them, she continues to keep their legends alive. Her story, The Amulet of Ormisez, is available as part of the MAKE BELIEVE anthology. Dragon Flight, appears in the ONE MORE DAY anthology, both published by J. Taylor Publishing. When not at her keyboard breathing new life into fantasy worlds, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, swimming, riding roller coasters and reading. She works as a paralegal by day and lives on the west coast of Florida with her family, three dogs, and a pretentious orange cat who might have been a dragon in his previous life.
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4 Responses to My Top 10 MG Speculative Fiction Picks for 2014, Part 1

  1. They all look fascinating — I can hardly choose!

  2. Pingback: Horror/Fantasy/YA/NA Reader Links… | TraciKenworth's Blog

  3. Pingback: Romance/Fantasy/Western/YA/NA Reader Links… | All Twangs Romance

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