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Review of Fiendish

by Brenna Yovanoff
High School    Razorbill/Penguin    341 pp.
6/14    978-1-59514-638-0    $17.99    g

Yovanoff (The Space Between, rev. 1/12; Paper Valentine, rev. 3/13) here weaves a haunting tale of old magic in a changing world. When Clementine was a child, a torch-bearing mob burned out her family; Clementine escaped by virtue of a magical coma that left her hidden, semi-conscious, in her cellar for years. When she’s found and awakened, the eerie happenings (grotesquely mutated animals, animated plants, uncanny weather) that led to the mob attack in the first place begin to resurge. As Clementine reacquaints herself with the townsfolk and her remaining “crafty” relatives, she tries to sift through the mysteries of her childhood to figure out what is causing the wild magic. Meanwhile, Clementine’s romantic attachment to Fisher, the boy who woke her, shines a spotlight on the divide between the crafty and non-crafty elements of the town, in whose gray spaces Fisher uneasily exists. Yovanoff’s world-building is sophisticated and precise, incorporating both the physical presence of the town and its dangers and the conceptual underpinnings of the supernatural in Clementine’s universe. Powerful, evocative prose brings to life a world close to overflowing with wild magic, seething prejudice, and base fear. For readers who like their fantasies unsettling and morally tangled; hand this to fans of Laini Taylor and Frances Hardinge.

From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Claire Gross About Claire Gross

Claire Gross is the youth librarian at the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library and a former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.



  1. Fiendish is the kind of book that leaves you in awe. Brenna used great technique in writing this and I loved it. Each page was like a new adventure that would leave you wanting more. I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for magic and the love story that every girl wants. By the time I finished this book I wanted magic. It made me cry and it made me laugh. And just to express everything that is going on in my head right now, Fiendish hit me, It hit me right in my feels.

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