Friday, April 15, 2011


My husband playfully chides me for keeping 20 unread books on my shelf, especially when I frequently complain about how I can't find anything to read. How do these books even end up there? Since I get them for free, I'm not always picky. If the premise if remotely interesting, I take the book home. Lately, I've been curbing this tendency in the interest of clearing my shelf a little bit. I recently read two books (see my latest reviews) that I would never have missed if I'd left them alone, but on a rare occasion, a book surprises me, especially if it's low on my reading list. Stork was one of those.

I've been hanging onto Stork, a young adult novel by Wendy Delsol, for awhile. It came out in October 2010, and I got my advance reader's copy quite a bit earlier than that. In all the array of paranormal beings, a girl-Stork who could put souls into just-conceived babies didn't intrigue me like people who could turn into more furry creatures. I've always been more into wolves and least into birds. I like to call myself an animal person, but I think birds are the most boring of all pets. My apologies to all the bird-lovers out there. I know I'm making enemies.

Even the heroine of Stork had a strike against her for being into fashion. I'm not against fashion, but I'm the least fashionable kind of person, comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt, wearing the same shoes every day of my life.

Nonetheless, Stork grabbed me, and in two days, I'd read it from cover to cover. It wasn't so much the plot, which became surprisingly more interesting the more I got invested. Thankfully, Katla never actually turns into a stork, and there's no swaddled babies being delivered in handkerchiefs to people's doorways. But there is magic involved. Katla unexpectedly finds herself the youngest member of a secret group of old women, grannies all, who believe in the old myths and put souls into unborn babies. The souls are revealed to the members of this stork society in dreams, and the only weird physical transformation is an odd, fiery rash on their scalps, which is a physical signal for them to gather together.

But being a Stork is only one of many transformations Katla is undergoing. She's just moved from California to a small town in Minnesota after her parents' divorce, and everyone stares at her strangely in her new school. It doesn't help that the one guy she got to know before school ill-used her and pretends not to know her once school starts. And then there's the guy who keeps popping up wherever Katla goes, but he and Katla can't seem to get along.

Even with all this going on, the plot isn't what makes the book exceptional. It's Katla's voice throughout the story. Her thoughts and her dialog are always witty, packing in word plays and clever imagery in subtle ways you would almost miss if you didn't slow down to absorb them. It's not only Katla who's likeable either. The characters around her are quirky and loveable with their own brands of humorous witticisms. Stork was simply an enjoyable read.

It's hard to categorize this book. It has fantastical elements in it, but it's not fantasy. It has paranormal elements in it, and it certainly has romance, but it's not paranormal romance in the way you normally see. It's magical, but the magic is not domineering. The magical elements are almost a side plot for most of the book, and that's fine. But however you might categorize Stork, the facts remain, it was surprisingly captivating and downright satisfying.

Four bright, beautiful stars.

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