Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Rovina CaiWhat it's about: In a modern-day U.S. infused with magic, aspiring paranormal investigator Ellie looks into her cousin's murder. Using both her know-how and her ability to wake the ghosts of animals (a power inherited from her Lipan Apache ancestors), Ellie uncovers something truly sinister.
Art alert: Intricate illustrations by Rovina Cai heighten the atmosphere of this suspenseful read.
You might also like: Akwaeke Emezi's Pet, another own voices fantasy that's absolutely outside the box.
We Are Not Free by Traci CheeWhat it's about: the changing bonds between 14 Japanese American teens in the 1940s as they and their families are forced out of their San Francisco homes and into prison camps.
How it's told: through the voices of all 14 characters (both separately and together), as well as through poetry, drawings, postcards, maps, and more.
Why you might like it: From family discord to enduring friendship, the wide variety of relationships in this story offer powerful insights into a horrific moment in U.S. history.
Raybearer by Jordan IfuekoWhat it's about: Tarisai was raised by The Lady with a specific destiny: to become one of the eleven elite councilors to the Crown Prince of Aritsar, gain the Prince's trust, and assassinate him.
What happens: Tarisai's love for the Prince contradicts her deadly mission, but how can she declare her true loyalty when she's bound by The Lady's magic?
Try this next: Roseanne A. Brown's A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, another lush Afrofantasy about the tension between desire and duty.
Grown by Tiffany D. JacksonStarring: Enchanted Jones, whose singing dreams come true when R&B superstar Korey Fields takes her under his wing.
What happens: As Korey's behavior becomes disturbing, Enchanted begins to fear the price of fame -- and that's before she wakes up with Korey's blood on her hands.
Is it for you? While Grown's unflinching look at abuse and exploitation might not be for everyone, readers in search of an intense, socially aware thriller won't be able to put it down.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden ThomasWhat it's about: While trying to prove to his magically gifted family that he's a true brujo, gay trans guy Yadriel accidentally awakens the spirit of rebellious Julian, who wants Yadriel's help in finding his murderer.
Read it for: spellbinding urban fantasy, smoldering paranormal romance, an inclusive cast of characters, and an own voices perspective on growing up trans and Latinx.
For fans of: Zoraida Cordova's Brooklyn Brujas series.
City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. AndersonRevenge is mine: Tina lives by a strict set of self-imposed rules while working as a thief for a Kenyan street gang and planning the takedown of her mother's killer.
A risky partnership: When her plans go awry, Tina breaks a rule ("thieves don't have friends") in favor of a partnership that might reveal the truth about her mother's death.
Why you might like it: Smart, suspenseful, and gritty, City of Saints & Thieves will keep you riveted from the first page.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani ChokshiWelcome to: 1889 Paris, where the ancient, magical Order of Babel calls the shots, and disinherited Order member Severin is gathering a crew of talented misfits to pull off a heist that could change everything.
Read if for: high stakes, luxe settings, an inventive blend of magic and science, and richly drawn characters with intersecting identities.
For fans of: Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows.
Invictus by Ryan GraudinWhat it's about: Born outside of time and rejected from the Corps of Central Time Travelers, 17-year-old Farway "Far" Gaius McCarthy has his work cut out for him as captain of the Invictus, traveling back in time to steal antiquities from history.
Who it's for: Told in the alternating voices of Far's diverse crew of friends, this "rollicking, bombshell-laden adventure" (Kirkus Reviews) is sure to hook fans of quirky, Doctor Who-style science fiction.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb RoehrigStarring: unruly heiress and paparazzi darling Margo Manning, who moonlights as a cat burglar with a talented crew of drag queens -- until an especially risky job threatens to destroy the whole team.
Read it for: biting humor, clever pop culture references, high drama, and even higher stakes.
For fans of: Ally Carter's Heist Society series, as well as Oceans 11-style heist movies.
Lies I Told by Michelle ZinkStarring: 17-year-old Grace, adopted into a family of con artists.
What happens: Grace loves her family, and is a talented participant in their long cons and complicated heists. Recently, though, her brother's doubts -- not to mention her steamy romance with her latest mark -- are leading her to question her loyalty.
Don't miss: the sequel, Promises I Made -- you'll want to have it on hand after finishing this twisty, character-driven thriller.
Contact your librarian for more great books for age 14 and up!
Villa Park Public Library
305 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, Illinois 60181