cover image The Cost of All Things

The Cost of All Things

Maggie Lehrman. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-232074-2

Ari, Markos, Kay, and Win live in a version of our world in which a person can visit witchlike hekamists to request a spell—to forget someone (Ari), to find the will to live (Win), to be beautiful and have friends (Kay), or to relieve the weight of the world (Markos). Lehrman, a children’s book editor making her debut as a novelist, alternates perspective among these four protagonists, delivering a story that is squarely grounded in reality, despite its distinct paranormal overlay. Lehrman’s prose pulses with dark emotion—loss, grief, rage, frustration, confusion, doomed love, loneliness—and the steady desperation of her characters is both disturbing and compelling. The characters’ voices can sound overly similar at times, and the things that are left unsaid by everyone are so subtle that the book’s closing revelation may prove more confusing than illuminating to some readers. But Lehrman is adept at digging underneath the surface of her characters and bringing up what’s underneath into the glaring light, however uncomfortable this might make them—or readers. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (May)