Wannabe detectives and aspiring magicians alike will delight in The Grimoire of Grave Fates, an anthology of 18 interlinked stories penned by such beloved YA authors as Kat Cho, Marieke Nijkamp, Mason Deaver, Darcie Little Badger and Kwame Mbalia.
The compelling Agatha Christie-esque whodunit is set at the Galileo Academy for the Extraordinary, a prestigious school founded by famous “astronomy sorcerer” Galileo Galilei that educates future sorcerers. In recent eras, the academy has adopted a “more global view of magic,” resulting in updated classes, travel to different countries and policies meant to ensure greater diversity and inclusivity.
Unfortunately, this has had no effect on the employment of Septimius Dropwort, a professor of magical history—and a proud, vocal, abusive bigot. It’s not surprising, then, that when he’s found murdered on school grounds, nary a tear is shed. But accusations aplenty arise: Since he has mistreated and alienated pretty much everyone, everyone is therefore a viable suspect.
The book’s writers have created an appealing cast of characters with a range of backgrounds, abilities and personalities, all of whom are preoccupied with fulfilling their magical destinies while attempting to excel in a place that can feel inhospitable.
As The Grimoire of Grave Fates editors Hanna Alkaf (Hamra and the Jungle of Memories) and Margaret Owen (Little Thieves) write in their note to readers, “Some readers may have felt painfully excluded from stories about witches, wizards, and magic schools that could not imagine people like them; some have been deliberately shut out. Above all, we hope that everyone can see themselves somewhere in these pages.”
As the story progresses and the students join forces to find the killer before one of them is blamed, they gradually realize they’re not as alone as they first thought. Delightful details abound: Taya, in the art-based magic program, has a lioness familiar named Ketesl; Maxwell blends math and magic; and Jamie sneezes ice crystals after walking through a ghost. Together, the students home in on the elusive culprit, attempt to evade harm and collectively remind the school that its extraordinary attendees deserve more support—a resonant message of hope for a better future, magical or otherwise.