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Review Date: April 1, 2016
Appelbaum, Susannah. Sky Pony, 2016. 400p. $17.99. 978-1-63450-674-8.
Written by the author of the renowned young adult trilogy The Poisons of Caux, Appelbaum’s new stand-alone novel is touted as “part gothic thriller, part historical fiction.” The story opens with letters written to the famed Marie Antoinette, Queen of the Damned, by a besotted suitor. The tone of the letters quickly changes, however, as the suitor is revealed to be a fallen angel seeking redemption. Centuries later, seventeen-year-old Itzy arrives at the infamous Carlyle Hotel in New York City to spend the entire summer with her pretentious aunt, and nothing is as it seems. Introduced to a diverse cast of characters, including Marilyn Monroe, as well as many others of historical significance, Itzy tries to solve the mysteries that surround her, including what really happened to her mother when she was a child.
Divided into two parts, the novel seamlessly blends characters from the past and present as Itzy becomes embroiled in the eternal fight of good versus evil. Told from a third-person point of view in short chapters, the story is fast and suspenseful but not predictable. While there is a love story, it is not overly emphasized, and the focus of the story remains on Itzy’s transformation as she searches for the truth of what is happening to her and why. Many of the unique features of the Carlyle Hotel are mentioned in the story, including details about the hotel’s interior and Marilyn Monroe’s legendary use of the underground tunnel system. Historical dates are also used in a symbolic manner throughout the story, as well as references to the French language. This book is recommended for higher level readers of either gender with a fondness for gothic fantasy and historical fiction, as well as horror similar to Beautiful Creatures or City of Bones.—Valerie Burleigh.