LESLYE WALTON says that The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender began as a short story that came to her while listening to a song. She has an MA in writing, and this is her first novel. Leslye Walton is a native of Tacoma, Washington, where she currently teaches high school.




Candlewick – March 13, 2018

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author—Nor’s own mother—looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.


“In succinct, evocative sentences, Walton paints vivid scenes while maintaining a gripping plot. Addressing abandonment, self-harm, first love, and other topics, Walton weaves a rewardingly complex tale that brims with suspense and romance.“—Publishers Weekly, starred review




Candlewick – March 25, 2014

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava — in all other ways a normal girl — is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.


New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award (Young Adult/Children’s)
Winner of the 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award
Winner of the 2015 Washington State Book Award
#1 on the Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014
American Booksellers for Children Best Books of 2014
Amazon Best Books of 2014
Hudson Booksellers Best of 2014
Amazon Editors’ Top Pick for Best Books of April 2014

ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults

“Rich with lyrical and whimsical writing, Leslye Walton’s debut aches with the exquisite slow burn of a beautiful, heartbreaking, and messy love story generations in the making. Equally haunting and hopeful, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender imaginatively explores the real-life questions of why we love and how we choose to hold on to it.”—Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series

“This book is framed perfectly by its title. As a novel, it’s both strange and beautiful, following Ava, a girl who is born with wings. Perhaps even more unique than its plot is the atmosphere of the novel; harrowing and effortlessly lyrical, intoxicating without being too brutal to read…A must-read.”“—The Guardian

“Walton debuts with an entrancing and sumptuously written multigenerational novel wrapped in the language of fable, magical realism, and local legend.“—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This multigenerational tale examines love and considers the conflicting facets of loving and being loved—desire, despair, depression, obsession, self-love, and courage. Difficult to categorize, this is a mystical tale, a historical novel, a coming-of-age story, laced with folkloric qualities and magic realism, often evocative of great narratives like Erin Morgenstern’s transcendent The Night Circus (Doubleday, 2011) or the classic Like Water for Chocolate (Anchor, 1995) by Laura Esquivel. It is beautifully crafted and paced, mystical yet grounded by universal themes and sympathetic characters.“—School Library Journal, starred review

“In a sweeping intergenerational story infused with magical realism, debut author Leslye Walton tethers grand themes of love and loss to the earthbound sensibility of Ava Lavender as she recollects one life-altering summer as a teenager…Walton presents challenges that most teens will hopefully never face. She writes of love, betrayal, birth, murder, affection and rape—and wraps them in prose so radiant that readers feel carried by Ava’s narrative. The heroine’s humor and wisdom as she looks back at her life let us know that she is a survivor.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review

“[Ava’s voice] is a beautiful voice—poetic, witty, and as honest as family mythology will allow. There are many sorrows in Walton’s debut, and most of them are Ava’s through inheritance. Readers should prepare themselves for a tale where myth and reality, lust and love, the corporal and the ghostly, are interchangeable and surprising.“—Booklist

“The story’s language is gorgeous.“—Kirkus Reviews

“This magical lyrical story is a beautifully written novel with much to offer readers.—Library Media Connection

Jessica SpiveyW