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The City Beautiful
Cover of The City Beautiful
The City Beautiful
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Winner of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Adult2022 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel finalist2021 National Jewish Book Award finalistA Lambda Literary Award finalist2021 Bram Stoker Award...
Winner of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Adult2022 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel finalist2021 National Jewish Book Award finalistA Lambda Literary Award finalist2021 Bram Stoker Award...
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Description-

  • Winner of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Adult
    2022 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel finalist

    2021 National Jewish Book Award finalist
    A Lambda Literary Award finalist
    2021 Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot for Young Adult Novels
    A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens 2021
    "An achingly rendered exploration of queer desire, grief, and the inexorable scars of the past." —Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness

    Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.

    Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he'll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.

    But when Alter's best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World's Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov's dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.

    Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter's body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.
    "Chillingly sinister, warmly familiar, and breathtakingly transportive, The City Beautiful is the haunting, queer Jewish historical thriller of my darkest dreams."Dahlia Adler, creator of LGBTQreads and editor of That Way Madness Lies
 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Aden Polydoros grew up in Illinois and Arizona, and has a bachelor's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. When he isn't writing, he enjoys going to antique fairs and flea markets. He can be found on Twitter at @AdenPolydoros.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2021
    Young immigrant Alter Rosen lives in Chicago; it's 1893, and the World's Fair is in town. Seventeen-year-old Alter longs to enjoy everything the White City has to offer him, but as a Romanian refugee in the United States, he feels it is his responsibility to earn enough money to bring his mother and his sisters over from Europe. Jewish people in the Russian empire have long been the targets and victims of government-sanctioned violence, and while life in the U.S. is still not ideal for Jews, it's much safer. So, Alter tries his best to make an honest living and save his money. But when several Jewish boys from the tenements on Maxwell Street, where he has rented a room, end up missing or dead--including Alter's own roommate and secret crush, Yakov--Alter knows he has to find out the truth about their fates. A highly detailed historical landscape paired with the fantastical element of the dybbuk from ancient Jewish folklore, one of whom possesses Alter, provide a solid base for the book's leisurely paced and original narrative. Readers will become immersed in Alter's world, rooting for his survival, hoping for his reunion with his family, and wishing for him to find the love that he deserves. An author's note and glossary add valuable context. Main characters are White and Jewish. A slow-moving but compelling tale of a queer Jewish boy battling antisemitism and the supernatural. (Historical thriller. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 9, 2021
    Polydoros (the Assassin Fall series) seamlessly blends a murder mystery with Jewish folklore in this haunting historical fantasy. Alter Rosen, a 17-year-old Jewish immigrant to America, works as an apprentice typesetter, trying to scrape together enough money to bring his mother and sisters over from Romania. But Jewish teenage boys keep turning up dead while Chicago enjoys its grand World’s Fair, and when Yakov, Alter’s roommate and secret crush, becomes one of the victims, usually unassuming Alter must find a way to bring Yakov’s spirit peace—or risk his dybbuk taking over. Alter’s search for the killer reunites him with bold and charming Frankie, a fellow Jewish immigrant who’s willing to steal and gamble for success and stability. Polydoros offers an unflinching depiction of anti-Semitism abroad and in Chicago while capturing Jewish intra-communal tensions with nuance. Readers looking for finely wrought historical fiction with fully realized characters and a thrilling pursuit of justice are sure to be satisfied by Alter’s story. Ages 13–up. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2021

    Gr 9 Up-It's 1893 in Chicago during the World's Fair and Jewish Romanian immigrant Alter Rosen, born sick and named to confuse the Angel of Death, finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. Jewish boys all around the city have gone missing and been found murdered. Yakov, his close friend and roommate, is the most recent to be found dead. Strange things begin happening to Alter and he discovers that he's possessed by Yakov's dybbuk-a spirit that occupies a person's soul until they accomplish a goal. In this case, the goal is tracking down Yakov's killer, and Alter must do so before the dybbuk takes over entirely. Frankie, an alluring and dangerous boy from Alter's first arrival in Chicago reappears in his life. The two begin to hunt for the killer before they're targeted next and the dybbuk fully takes over. Polydoros doesn't hold back with this heavy, dark, and gritty story that explores the immigrant experience in a unique way. While firmly a historical fiction title, this genre-bending novel is also equal parts thriller and fantasy. Featuring a queer protagonist, it is deeply layered with Jewish myth, immigration, racism, and anti-Semitism. While scenes of violence, drowning, and slaughterhouses are incredibly vivid, some readers may find the descriptions too intense. Yiddish is woven throughout the dialogue and while context helps, a glossary would be beneficial. VERDICT A wild ride of a queer gothic fantasy that's a must-have for YA fantasy collections.-Alicia Kalan, The Northwest Sch., Seattle

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2021
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Seventeen-year-old Alter Rosen (a Jewish immigrant from Romania), moved to Chicago two years prior to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. He is saving up to move his mother and sisters to the U.S., but now that the fair is in town, Alter has noticed a pattern of young men disappearing from the tenements of Maxwell Street where he rents a room. When one of his roommates--his secret crush, Yakov--ends up dead, Alter is possessed by Yakov's dybbuk and tries to find the killer with the help of his friend Raizel (a Jewish girl who lives in his building) and Frankie, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who helped Alter survive Chicago when he first arrived. The world building is wonderfully thorough, incorporating Jewish folklore, antisemitism, and an overall immersive atmosphere that creates an unforgettable literary experience, complete with a well-paced plot and an adventurous and inquisitive cast of characters. Polydoros includes a glossary of Yiddish terminology and an author's note, ensuring readers are aware of the complexities of the narrative. The City Beautiful is a triumph, showcasing queer love, illuminating historical events, and guiding readers to an enthralling ending that will leave them satiated yet desirous to return to the world in which they have become immersed.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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