Vodnik by Bryce Moore

Tomas and his family are moving back to Slovakia, a home they've left since he's five years old, after he almost drowned and burned to death at the same time. The first thing Tomas sees when he gets back: a ghost. Not a good start, but that's not all. A few otherworldly beings, and some past acquaintances, have their eyes on Tomas. He is hoping it's just sleep deprivation and jet lag, but when Tomas found out from Death herself that his cousin Katka is going to die, he will have to admit he can see things others can't, and try to figure out who is friend and who is foe to save his cousin.

Pitting humans against powerful figures from myths a la Percy Jackson seems to be the thing to do still, and Bryce Moore did a fine job introducing us to the folklore of Slovakia, and giving us another reluctant hero to cheer for. Good and evil are somewhat ambiguous when it comes to these mythical creatures, especially the trickster Vodnik, so you never quite know who you should like. The book touches on racism and bullying, but those elements become a bit of a distraction from the main plot. Nonetheless, it's a fresh and engaging read.

For extra fun, check out the publisher's blog posts on how the design of the book cover came to be. I prefer some of the other illustrated designs so the book doesn't get dated easily. How about you?
Lee & Low Books: Design 101: How a book cover gets made Part I  Part II

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