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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stork by Wendy Delsol

What's in a cover? Yes, I often tell kids not to judge a book by the cover, but when I opened my tinted blue, plastic folder at our inaugural meeting of the Mighty Smackdown, the icy blue cover embellished with snowflakes and the pic of a Icelandic blue-eyed blond - I was drawn to this book. Isn't it fascinating how often we (as avid readers) sense something about a story worthiness from the cover art?

That being said, how does Delsol's new entry unfold? This debut novel blends Norse mythology with romance and is sure to attract young adult female readers. The story has a nice buildup of suspense, romance and surprising twists - a good first novel.

Fresh after the divorce of her parents, Katla and her mother move from Los Angeles to Norse Falls, a small town in Minnesota. Katla is displaced from her usual stylish, warm and trendy locale to small town Hicksville. Fitting in at the local high school is tough, as Kat fancies herself something of a fashionista. The descriptive writing about her clothing choices, aversion to flannel shirts, and her attempts at fitting in will resonate with teenage female readers.

Right off the bat, Katla discovers a mysterious secret society of elderly women called the Stork Society (hence the name of the book) that meet in the basement of the semi-closed, dusty, fabric shop across the street from Kat's own grandfather's store. Kat is invited to join the Storks and finds herself dreaming strange and mysterious dreams of women (from the town) fondly watching over a gurgling baby . I found this a little improbable and wondered just what sort of genre this story was treading. What this fantasy...from the cover it looked more like a girly romance?

Anyway Kat is now a "stork" - someone who has the power to decide which women in her town will become pregnant. I wondered where this special power was leading...when two boys enter the narrative both vying for Kat's attention. Wade dangerous and obnoxious won't leave her alone, while mysterious Jack, editor of the high school newspaper, won't have anything to do with her. The sparks that fly between Kat and Jack will capture teen readers and keep their attention throughout the rest of the story.

Secrets abound in Kat's new small town life - some secrets she must keep and others she finds that were kept from her. There are enough twists and turns in the telling to surprise the reader and the ending (while it comes a complete surprise) will satisfy readers and demand further adventures of this teenage pair.

A sequel entitled FROST has been announced.

Note that while I don't think this is a title that will win the final is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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