Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Five books about surprisingly supernatural teens

Leah Schnelbach is a staff writer for the pop culture website Tor.com, a fiction editor for the literary journal No Tokens, a sci-fi & fantasy columnist for Lithub’s Book Marks site and a former associate prose editor for Fairy Tale Review. Her fiction appears in Joyland, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Madcap Review, The Boiler, Anamesa, and Lumina. Her criticism has appeared in Tin House Online, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, Speculative Fiction 2015, The Crooked Timber Symposium and Electric Literature.

At Tor.com she tagged five favorite books about surprisingly supernatural teens, including:
Emily of New Moon and Emily’s Quest by L.M. Montgomery

This is another not-quite-as-famous series by a beloved author. L.M. Montgomery is primarily know as the author of the resolutely realistic Anne of Green Gables series, which follows a young redheaded orphan (who kinda wants to be a writer) through romantic trials and triumphs in Edwardian Canada. Emily of New Moon, my preferred Montgomery work, follow a black-haired orphan (who really, really wants to be a writer) through romantic trials and triumphs in Edwardian Canada. The difference between the two series is that Emily actually dedicates herself to her writing and sees some success despite the misogyny of the time, and also she’s fucking psychic. Two separate times over the course of the series she has several three-dimensional, full color, totally immersive visions. One concerns her best friend, Ilse Burnley. Ilse is practically feral, having been abandoned by her father, Dr. Burnley, who believes that Ilse’s mother left him for another man. It’s all very tragic and convoluted (especially as filtered through the points of view of two prepubescent Edwardian children—thanks, Lucy Maude) but it leads to a lot of misery. UNTIL. Emily contracts measles, nearly dies, and has a vision of a young woman running through a field and falling into a well. She recites the vision in a terrifying voice, the well is investigated, and voila! There are the bones of Ilse’s mother, who didn’t run away at all (yayyy!) but fell into a well and died (um, yay?). This has the happy (???) outcome of Dr. Burnley actually caring for his daughter. The second incident is much creepier. When Emily’s on-again-off-again artist boyfriend, Teddy, is about to leave for Europe, she falls into a fit. Hundreds of miles away Teddy sees her across a crowded dock, and follows her until he loses sight of her. This causes him to miss boarding his ship—which then sinks, killing everyone aboard. This isn’t even just telepathy or a psychic vision of some type, this is full-on bi-location! Teddy lives, tells Emily about it weeks later when he sees her again, and everyone in the book just goes about life as though they don’t have a superhero in their midst.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue