Title: The Ballad of Perilous Graves
Author: Alex Jennings
Publication Date: June 21, 2022
A fun and fantastical love letter to New Orleans unfolds when a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this wildly imaginative debut.
Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women help keep the order. To those from Away, Nola might seem strange. To Perilous Graves, it’s simply home.
Perry knows Nola’s rhythm as intimately as his own heartbeat. So when the city’s Great Magician starts appearing in odd places and essential songs are forgotten, Perry knows trouble is afoot.
Nine songs of power have escaped from the piano that maintains the city’s beat, and without them, Nola will fail. Unwilling to watch his home be destroyed, Perry will sacrifice everything to save it. But a storm is brewing, and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Nola’s time might be coming to an end.
Why This Book
The Ballad of Perilous Graves is about three children trying to save their musical and magical version of New Orleans. While Perry may be a boy, the other two children he works with are girls, one his younger sister and the other his longtime friend and crush. It’s these two girls I want to highlight, and Perry’s mom. Brendy, the sister, may be young, but she’s feisty, and I adored her for it so much. She gets herself into trouble, but has so much faith in her brother and their friend Peaches, and she’s just so bold. Peaches is a special, magical child, one with an incredible literal strength. She’s protective and will do anything to take care of her friends. Then there’s Perry and Brendy’s mother. As a mother myself, I have a good idea of just how strong and courageous she had to be to let her young children out into a troubled Nola and save it. These three were all incredible and courageous, bold and brave.
My review: “I loved how Brendy never let anyone get in her way, yet still acted very much like the child and younger sister she is. She felt like a spitfire to me, being bossy and bold…she’s unique and magical and I just fell in love with her from the start. She’s feisty and fun. I also really liked Peaches… She’s clearly a magical child who adores animals and has clearly defined boundaries between her and Perry that he follows. She has exceptional strength and a penchant for disappearing. But she’ll also protect her friends at all costs. There were times when she felt young, and times when she felt older… she has a strong sense of duty and will do whatever she needs to”
Queen’s Book Asylum gave this a 4, saying “this is a story full of soul, imagination, creativity, and heart, with all the necessary elements to draw in a fantasy lover. It’s got danger, passion and friendship, and a strong sense of community and familial devotion built on the foundations of gripping worldbuilding”
Every Book a Doorway gave this 3 stars, saying “although this is definitely a coming-of-age story for Perry, he’s far from the only one doing the hero-ing. Brendy even says as much at one point, saying it’s not fair that for no apparent reason Perry gets the better magic (or at least, what everyone thinks, at that point, is the better magic). Titles are not always up to authors, but whoever’s responsible for it, I side-eye headlining Perry when Brendy and Peaches are a lot more than helpful sidekicks”
Becky’s Book Blog gave this 4 stars, saying “Perry was through with the life of magic after an event left him terrified of what could happen, but through circumstance and familial heritage, finds himself and Brendy thrust into the world with too little knowledge and a whole heap of power. On the cusp of adulthood, Perry is loosing that childish feeling of imperviousness, he knows danger and fear, whereas Brendy is still young enough to think she is untouchable, still delighted by magic without the fear of wondering what it could do to her. Peaches is a strange character, a young girl living by herself who runs the streets of Nola like she owns it, and she might well do. With unnatural strength and a strong tie to the magical world, she is someone both Perry and Brendy look too with a kind of awe”
The Bibliophile Chronicles gave this 4.25 stars, saying “The story is fast paced with multiple points of view and there were some moments where I had no idea where the story was going to go. Jennings has a brilliantly vivid writing style and the world of Nola absolutely lept off the page. I loved the amount of detail put into creating the world and the magic”
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Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.
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