A Tuesday Ten: Working for a Living

Yesterday was labor day!  So I thought it appropriate to highlight ten books where the main characters are engaged in some kind of work or employment.  If you were in a fantasy or SF story, what kind of work would you like to do?


Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury, c2007)

Dashti is an orphan who becomes a maid for a young and troubled mistress.  When that mistress is locked up in a tower for seven years as punishment for refusing to marry, Dashti goes with her and keeps a record of their story in her journal.  Based on the lesser known Grimms’ fairy tale “Maid Maleen”, Hale moves her story to the Asian steppes and weaves a touching tale of friendship amid danger, warfare and dark magic.  Dashti is the strength of this story, and it is through her capable nature that both girls survive the trials to come.


The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson (Delacorte Books, March 2014)

Piper has worked as a scrapper and mechanic ever since her father died.  She finds things left in the meteor fields and repairs them, or sells them for profit.  She also fixes things for the other scrappers, and seems to have quite a remarkable talent for doing so.  But her latest find isn’t a thing–it’s a girl.  A girl with the mark of the Dragonfly Territories.  If she can get the girl back home again, she might win a sizeable reward–one that could allow her to do more than simply survive day to day.  But getting there could be tough.  It will involve stowing away on a train, avoiding the authorities and keeping Anna out of the hands those who are pursuing her.


Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (Simon Pulse, c1992)

My most reread Tamora Pierce book after the Song of the Lioness Quartet.  This first book in the Immortals quartet introduces readers to Daine, a young girl orphaned and on the run who is looking for employment.  In fact the book opens on her interviewing for the job of assistant to a horse mistress.  The job, and the journey lead Daine into a world of adventure and magic she never anticipated, and force her to face some truths about herself and her own gifts.


Zorgoochi Intergalactic Pizza: Delivery of Doom written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Feiwel & Friends, Expected publication, September 2014)

Young Luno’s been waiting impatiently for the chance to prove his worth to the family business–and finally it’s his turn to take over the exciting and dangerous task of pizza delivery.  When your pizza is known far and wide in the galaxy and your customers are as varied as the worlds on which they live, well things can certainly be a challenge.  Add in the deadly and dangerous tactics of a rival pizza chain and Luno will be put through his paces! Can he deliver the goods on time?  The first  book in a hysterical space opera style  series.


The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney-Hyperion, 2013)

Who you gonna call?  In this alternate timeline Britain, things are very haunted indeed–and the only people capable of handling ghosts and wraiths and things that go bump in the night are young agents like Lucy, George and Lockwood.  These young agents run a business to help the residents of England dispell ghosts and exorcise hauntings. Their latest hire would do wonders both for the small agency’s reputation and coffers, but it also might spell doom for them all!  This is a fantastic series.  The second book, The Whispering Skull is expected to be published September 16th, 2014.


Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry (HarperCollins, 2013)

For the Hashoone family, you learn the family business on the job!  The Hashoones are privateers, former pirates that work for the Jovian Union, capturing spacecraft that aren’t allies and ransoming them for a profit.  Tycho and his brother and sister are all in competition to see who will be the next captain of the Shadow Comet when their mother retires from command.  An exciting space adventure series with some great characters!  Check out  Jupiter Pirates: Curse of the Iris out this December 2014.


Rose by Holly Webb (Sourcebooks Jabborwocky, 2013)

Rose is a young orphan who just wants a good job so that she can prove how hard a worker she can be and how capable she is.  She isn’t interested in fairy tales and magic–and when magic comes her way nevertheless, she does her best to avoid it.  When children start to go missing, however, Rose’s peculiar gifts and determination may be the only way to find them and put a stop to a dark and deadly magician.  The first book in a series, Rose lives in a world where the working class is firmly separated from the upper classes,where a mere maid shouldn’t have anything to do with magic.  That Rose has a gift for spells places her uncomfortably in both worlds at once.


The Real Boy by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond Press, 2013)

Young Oscar is a shop boy for an island’s magician.  He’s more comfortable working with herbs and mixtures and plants than dealing with people.  But his peculiarities have to be put aside when trouble starts threatening his island home.  No one else seems able to help, not the other magic users, nor his own frequently absent master.  It may be up to Oscar to come out of his shell and help save the home he loves.


How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks (HMH, 2013)

 The first book in this historical fantasy Bogle series, the author introduces us to Birdie, a sweet-voiced and fearless orphan who feels she has a good thing going as a Bogler’s assistant.  Of course Bogling isn’t for the faint of heart, Birdie sings and plays bait while her master sneaks up to kill the bogles.  But it’s a solid living and Birdie’s intent on keeping her employment.  Even when well meaning “nobs” wish her to give up bogling and pursue singing instead.


The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty (Harcourt, 2011)

Sacha never wanted to be an apprentice to the New York City Inquisitor, but when he demonstrates an ability to see magic, he winds up in that position, whether he wishes it or no.  In this alternate history NYC, magic and myth operate alongside real historical detail.  Sacha, from the Lower East Side tenements struggles to understand not only the magic at work, but the politics and alliances that make up the city.  The second book in the series,  The Watcher in the Shadows came out in 2013.


Comments welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on September 3, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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