The Wikkeling by Steven Arntson, illustrated by Daniela J. Terrazzini
This is not a story where the girl become beautiful or the boy gets the girl. Henrietta gets House Sick, terrible headaches because she lives in an old house, not like the nice plastic ones that have taken over the neighborhood. Things begin to change as Henrietta finally makes a friend at school and then the camera in her bedroom stops working and she finds a trapdoor to an attic where there is a wounded Wild House Cat. What does the cat’s presence mean? How is the mysterious Wikkeling creature connected to the headaches that her and her friends suffer from?
This is not the final cover, this is as usual the cover I have – in this case the ARC. I can’t decide which I like more, this one gives you a better idea of the ending, but the final one is not as creepy. There are inserts from the Bestiary, which is full of surreal creatures, that exist in this world, but that is coupled with the almost terrifying sense of progress created by schools with “District-Approved Vocabulary” lists, bedroom cams so your parents can keep an eye on you and horns that honk advertisements. This could be called science fiction, it could be called fantasy, but I will settle for calling it spectacular speculative fiction that defies traditional genre borders. There is no reason we should be able to put fiction into neat little boxes! Boxes are for reality, this is not reality. I am smitten with this book, and this isn’t any girly “it made my heart pitter-patter so I’ll forgive it being silly”. This is sheer awe at pure creativity. This is a serious world that has been outlined here. It is not part of a series, I know some thought it would be because there are loose ends, but to me these “loose ends” were no such thing. They were the signs that this is a full world. We can’t have both, we can either have well-developed worlds or we can have everything tied neatly with a pretty bow. I would much prefer this: a book with fantastic development and details that keep you thinking about how it all worked, how that world came to be…. and this is a book for young people! We need more such imaginative and thoughtful fiction for all ages. Oh and before I cut off my gushing: the illustrations are fantastic. Terrazzini had the perfect mix of skills for this project. The contrast of the silhouette and the sketch, that is the embodiment of this book. As I have already told two people: go, now, read it!
On a side note: speaking of “District-Approved Vocabulary” Dear WordPress, stop trying to make people dumb. “final” is not a complex phrase, especially not a complex phrase that needs to be replaced with “last” because they are not the same thing. The English language has so many words for a reason, stop trying to weed them! Thanks!