Sold in a heated auction, Stephanie Willing’s spellbinding debut is Tae Keller meets Tracey Baptiste, with the literary heart of The Higher Power of Lucky. In a tale of generational trauma, told with a cryptozoological twist, this outstanding new middle-grade novel seamlessly blends history and mythology with humor, big feelings, and even bigger questions.
WEST OF THE SEA
by Stephanie Willing
Viking, August 2023
(via Writers House)
When her mom disappears from their small Texas town, paleontology-loving Haven is determined to find her. But as she uncovers truths about her mom’s identity, Haven also uncovers a monstrous family secret. Her mom can take the shape of a human and, in the right environment, also turn into an amphibious creature known as a kitskara. And now that she’s growing up, Haven is discovering she has this ability, too. This newfound identity is her only clue to help her track her mother and bring her back home. And so she, her older sister Margie, and her new friend Rye set off on a road trip across Texas’s Gulf Coast to her late grandparents’ abandoned home, where they’re sure her mom has disappeared to. . . along with plenty of family secrets.
Infused with a deep love of fossils and Celtic mythology, WEST OF THE SEA is a lyrical, heart-filled coming-of-age story for fans of cryptozoology—and anyone who has struggled to find their place in the world when they feel different.
Stephanie Willing started writing stories and poetry when she was a little girl, and while she tried a lot of different kinds of art-making, reading and writing have always been her artistic home. Stories are at the heart of everything she does. As a dancer, she tells stories through movement. As an actor, she creates an emotional landscape through other people’s words. As an audiobook narrator, she gets to play all the parts at once and study how other authors craft their stories, while bringing it to life through audio. Stephanie has her MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University.