IN OTHER LANDS
Brennan brilliantly turns the very genre she occupies on its head with this YA fantasy. In her latest, the human who falls into a magic world isn’t a strong, beautiful, charismatic hero. It is Elliot, a hero who might annoy, but who is also the most intensely relatable character to emerge from fantasy lately. For anyone who has ever wondered how they would fare in the fantasy worlds they enjoy reading about, In Other Lands is a novel that might answer that question. Even though Elliot is never painted as a prodigy at any of the new things he encounters, Brennan allows him to be heroic, and in the end, all the happiness he may receive feels earned.
Elliot is not predisposed to diplomacy, and he is not the hero one would expect to fall into a magic world to solve the problems therein. But just because he is ordinary — he is grumpy and prone to inertia and normal — doesn’t mean he can’t save the world he now inhabits — and, perhaps, find love in an unexpected place. (BIG MOUTH HOUSE, Aug., 465 pp., $19.95, HC, 12 & Up)