Friday, October 14, 2011

Postcard Friday: Mysterious Prague

Postcard From Prague

Katie is our travel queen, always up for grabbing her passport and going. Today she's heading to Prague.

While most of us equate travel with summer vacation, for me, it will always be autumn in Prague, all golden leaves and rusted red roofs, which makes it the perfect fall armchair reading escape. No matter what the season, though, Prague is a storybook city, which makes it all the more remarkable that more books haven’t been set in this idyllic, historically rich corner of the world. Gorgeously preserved Gothic architecture, castles, towers, museums dedicate to torture--these are the things great stories are made of. Luckily, Prague is being pulled from YA-setting obscurity and given its due in these two books--covering the spectrum from high school to middle school. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Karou was raised by monsters. In possession of super human fighting skills and blue hair that was granted to her through one of many small wishes, Karou wants some normalcy in her life, which is why she in enrolled at drawing school in Prague where she finally has a best friend, an ex-boyfriend, and the beginnings of a real life. But the monster who raised Karou keeps sending her away on missions to find more teeth. And the black handprints are showing up on doors. And no one is answering her questions. Until she meets the beautiful seraph, Akiva. He has answers for her, but they may not be the answers she wants. He gradually reveals her past to her--the teeth, the handprints, the secrets--but what this all means for her future will be revealed in the sequel. Taylor leaves us with a heartbreaking cliffhanger that leaves us wondering now only what the future holds for Akiva and Karou, but also what fate awaits her as she enters the age old battle between angels and monsters.

 This upcoming release has already been lauded as something special by Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly. National Book Award winner Laini Taylor puts her own unique spin on the angels versus demons genre. Unsurprisingly, she makes the story (and city) her own, blurring the lines between good and evil and weaving together a complex past with a present that is on the verge of destruction.

The Cabinet of Wonders by Maria Rutkoski
Who created this stunning clock? And what sort of power could a clock this beautiful and complex possess? Maria Rutkoski takes us back to an alternate Prague and explores these questions with heaps of imagination and adventure. In The Cabinet of Wonders, the magic of Prague does not come from angels or demons, but from everyday people with magical abilities. Twelve-year-old Petra is the daughter of a man with a great deal of magical ability as an inventor, whose skills have come to the attention of the Prince of Bohemia. But the prince’s intentions are not so noble as he may have had Petra’s father believe and at the beginning of the tale we find that as the clock nears completion, the prince has stolen her father’s eyes. And so it is that accompanied by her magical tin spider, Petra leaves her small town of Oknos and goes to Prague hoping to retrieve the enchanted eyes from the prince and during her quest is aided in her quest by a Roma boy and his sister. 

This re-imagining of the origins of the clock is bursting with its own unique brand of magic, that much like Prague has been widely unexplored in other books.

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