The Deep (Rosetta Press; November 2013) When fourteen-year-old Nyla finds herself at the center of a battle between good and evil miles beneath Brooklyn, she must learn to wield the astonishing power she inherited from the mother who abandoned her as a child.
In the past several years, Zetta Elliott has emerged as a major author of speculative fiction featuring African-American protagonists…The Deep does lead readers on “fabulous adventures,” and Elliott deserves applause and support for making this extraordinary story available now to fans of Ship of Souls and other readers at the middle and high school level looking for tales of ordinary kids who find themselves superheroes.
For such a short novel, The Deep, an Urban Fantasy with contemporary YA trappings packs a lot: from the introduction to a whole new, hidden underground world and a secret group that keeps evil at bay to the idea that what said group might be doing is not entirely that black and white; from expanding on the previous book by continuing Dmitri’s story but also focusing on Nyla’s own including her past, her present, her parent’s own struggles, her love life, her developing magical powers…The book greatest strengths are Zetta Elliott’s (always) beautiful writing and the careful, powerful characterisation of Nyla and of those who surround her. Zetta Elliott is at her best when writing about characters’ emotional make-up and Nyla’s relationship with her family, her stepmother, her boyfriend (and his family) are beautifully portrayed.
Ship of Souls (Skyscape; February 2012) Set in New York City, Ship of Souls features a cast of three African-American teens: D, a math whiz; Hakeem, a Muslim basketball star; and Nyla, a beautiful military brat. This unique blend of speculative fiction and history explores the quest for belonging, the power of friendship, and the value of loyalty.
“Urban fantasies are nothing rare, but few mesh gritty realism with poetic mysticism so convincingly. By turns sad, joyful, frightening, funny, and inspirational, Elliott’s second novel is a marvel of tone and setting, creating a universe where angry corpses and rock-monsters are every bit as expected as dirty subways and bag ladies. Issues of war, poverty, racism, Islam, and 9/11 do not bog down the telling but instead enrich it. Different readers will take away different messages, all of them powerful—quite an accomplishment for so few pages.”
Selected as a Booklist Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Youth Title; finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award.
Read more reviews at the Ship of Souls blog.
A Wish After Midnight (Skyscape; February 2010) Fifteen-year old Genna Colon believes wishes can come true. When Genna flees into the garden late one night, she makes a fateful wish and finds herself instantly transported back in time to Civil War-era Brooklyn.
“Although there is plenty of history embedded in the novel, A Wish After Midnight is written with a lyrical grace that many authors of what passes for adult literature would envy.” (Paula L. Woods for The Defenders Online)
“Zetta Elliott’s time travel novel A Wish After Midnight is a bit of a revelation…It’s vivid, violent and impressive history.” (Colleen Mondor for Bookslut)
To read excerpts of the sequel, Judah’s Tale, visit the Wish blog.
Bird (Lee & Low; October 2008) is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird’s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.
- Lee & Low New Voices Honor Award
- Best of 2008, Kirkus Reviews (& starred review)
- 2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book
- Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent & Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award (won by Shadra Strickland)
- Bank Street College Best Children’s Book 2009
- 2009 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers
- 2011 West Virginia Children’s Choice Book Award
See the publisher’s webpage for a complete list of reviews
Stranger in the Family (Rosetta Press; March 2009) is a mixed-media memoir that documents my journey from Canada to the U.S., to Africa, and then back “home.”
More titles can be found on the Rosetta Press blog.