Sarah Rees Brennan was born, raised, and lives in Ireland. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Tell the Wind and Fire, the Lynburn Legacy series, and Season of the Witch (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Book 1), among others.
In Other Lands is at once a classic school story, a coming-of-age tale and a parody of Harry Potter. It's hilarious and sneakily moving. Elliot Schafer is Harry Potter if Harry had been abandoned instead of merely orphaned. Convinced of his unlovability, he wields sarcasm and braininess as weapons. . . . Brennan subverts the familiar Y.A. love triangle in uproarious, touching, unexpected ways, and her commentaries on gender roles, sexual identity and toxic masculinity are very witty. Elven culture, for instance, views men as the weaker sex. A true gentleman's heart is as sacred as a temple, and as easily crushed as a flower, Serene informs Elliot. When another elf tells him, I was saddened to hear Serene had launched a successful attack on the citadel of your virtue, Elliot assures her, The citadel was totally into surrendering. Best of all, over four years in the otherlands, Elliot grows from a defensive, furious, grieving child into a diplomatic, kind, menschy hero. -- New York Times Book Review It has been a long time since I've loved a book this much. -- Seanan McGuire, author of Every Heart a Doorway Sarah Rees Brennan's brand-new novel, In Other Lands, was first published in serial installments on the author's blog, where the story became so popular she decided to make a book out of it. It's easy to see why: The young adult fantasy author is known for her delightful characters, and In Other Lands' hero, Elliott, is a precocious, snarky wunderkind who's whisked away to wizarding school, where he's given his choice of becoming a warrior or a diplomat. But Elliott has his two best friends at his side -- one a matriarchal elf princess, the other a quiet jock with a secret -- and he isn't about to play by the rules. If you enjoy stories about magical boarding schools, In Other Lands is a treat. It's full of romance in all directions, plenty of fantasy trope subversions, Brennan's typical insouciant wit. -- Vox This takes on the portal fantasy with a good dose of silliness, but also draws complex, captivating characters. -- Danika Leigh Ellis, Vulture The four sections of the novel each follow a year in Elliot's life, from when he comes to the Borderlands to when he, Serene, and Luke graduate the training camp. The reader follows conflicts both political and personal, watching Elliot grow into himself and his skills as he turns the politics of the world around him on their head one small maneuver at a time. He isn't, of course, a savior figure; he also isn't magically gifted. He's just dedicated, smart, and willing to risk himself to better the world around him. It's a delightful look at how personal and how influential politics can be: Brennan isn't saying that one person can change the world, but she's showing how one person can push it in the right direction if they try hard enough. -- Brit Mandelo, tor.com Above all, In Other Lands is a novel about growing up and growing into oneself, a task that is ultimately more difficult than dealing with unicorns or negotiating treaties with harpies. --Electra Pritchett, Strange Horizons I have rewritten the first paragraph of this review a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can't do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subversive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines a magic-world school setting with heaps of snark about everything from teen romance to gender roles, educational systems and serious world diplomacy. -- Locus This brilliant novel becomes more and more intense and funny and engaging with each page and is so utterly enjoyable that it was the easiest thing in the world for me to fall in love with it. This is what we need more of in YA fantasy, this is what we need more of in YA fiction. Buy the book, read the book, recommend the book. In Other Lands is the real deal and by far what everyone needs to be reading this year. I loved it. I loved every damn minute of this book and I'm so glad it is out in the world. -- Colleen Mondor, Guys Lit Wire In Other Lands is a stunning example of Sarah Rees Brennan's style; her characters are hysterically funny with complex and nuanced inner lives that could break a reader's heart. Elliot, cranky and obnoxious teen that he is, desperately longs to be loved best by someone, but covers with immense sarcasm and general unkindness. Luke and Serene, both exceptionally talented and good-looking, also struggle with feeling displaced. The depiction of misandry in Elf culture is one of the funniest concepts that Rees Brennan has come up, and even that she turns into a deeper lesson for Serene, Elliot, and Luke. In Other Lands can come off as a parody of fantasy, but it delves deep into issues of race, gender, sexuality, and war, and absolutely nails the struggles and triumphs of growing up. -- Sami Thomason, Square Books Snarky, self-aware, smart, funny, and tremendously sweet, In Other Lands works equally well for adults and genre-versed young adults. -- Borderlands Books I loved this book. I loved it. But early on I wanted to smack Elliott, the fourteen-year-old boy who is cho- sen, from our world, to go to the Borderlands because he can see magic. And I might have stopped reading, had I not distinctly heard (not making this up, I swear) a voiceover saying: Once there was a boy named Eustace Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. -- Michelle West, F&SF I expected this book to give me magic. I expected an adventure. I expected many lols. And sure enough, I got everything I expected plus a whole lot more! I was already laughing before I finished the first page and by the time I finished the first chapter I was deeply in love. -- Booktopia Four years in the life of an unloved English schoolboy who's invited to a secret magical school and learns that even in fantasyland, real life is messier than books. . . . But over the course of four years training among child soldiers, Elliot, unsurprisingly, grows up. His slow development into a genuinely kind person is entirely satisfying, as is his awakening to his own bisexuality and to the colonialism, sexism, and racism of Borderlands society. . . . A stellar . . . wholly rewarding journey. -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Elliot Schafer is a small-for-his-age 13-year-old who is prone to being bullied--largely due to his personality, which slots somewhere between insufferable know-it-all and sarcastic jackass. When Elliot's class travels to a 'random field in Devon, England' for a supposed scholarship test, he instead winds up in a strange world known as the Borderlands, which are filled with elves, mermaids, and other creatures. So begins Brennan's hilarious, irreverent, and multilayered coming-of-age fantasy, set over several years. Elliot quickly befriends (and falls for) Serene, a fierce elven warrior, and arranges a reluctant truce with Luke Sunborn, the son of one of the Borderland's founding families. All three--along with every young person there--are training in war or as councilors, charged with protecting the fragile barrier with the human world. Amid shifting relationships, the threat of war, and substantial growth among the characters, Elliot's razor-edged wit and general inability to keep his mouth shut make for blissfully entertaining reading. Smart explorations of gender stereotypes, fluid sexuality, and awkward romance only add to the depth and delight of this glittering contemporary fantasy. -- Publishers Weekly (starred review) Irritable and annoying, 13-year-old Elliot Schafer becomes the unlikely protagonist of Brennan's novel after receiving an invitation to attend a unique school in the magical realm, which is protected from the real world by an invisible wall that few can see. There he spends the next four years learning about elves, mermaids, trolls, treaties, and falling in love. This is a school story for older youth, with freewheeling (but not explicit) sexuality, a dedicated pacifist as a main character, and slightly cynical humor that masks great heart. . . . Brennan turns stereotypes upside down: elves view men as the delicate flowers, and the shining blond hero is a shy, half-breed boy conflicted since birth. -- Booklist Online Brennan brilliantly turns the very genre she occupies on its head with this YA fantasy. In her latest, the human who falls into a magic world isn't a strong, beautiful, charismatic hero. It is Elliot, a hero who might annoy, but who is also the most intensely relatable character to emerge from fantasy lately. For anyone who has ever wondered how they would fare in the fantasy worlds they enjoy reading about, In Other Lands is a novel that might answer that question. Even though Elliot is never painted as a prodigy at any of the new things he encounters, Brennan allows him to be heroic, and in the end, all the happiness he may receive feels earned. -- RT Book Reviews (4 stars) The existence of mythical creatures seems more plausible to snarky, studious teen Elliot Schafer than making friends or having a loving family. After enrolling at Borderlands Academy, a training school for the magical realm's soldiers and scholars, Elliot forms an unlikely trio with Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an Elven warrior-scholar, and Luke Sunborn, a gifted golden boy. Narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies skillfully suggests the vulnerable qualities hidden beneath Elliot's sarcasm as he navigates gender, war, sexuality, and friendship in the Borderlands. Humor, delightfully wrought in this production, permeates each section. Davies populates this world with vivid performances of fantastical beings such as harpies, mermaids, and elves. His clear enunciation of Elvish certainty and the sharp, grating vocal qualities of harpies and mermaids make the students' forays into battle and diplomacy memorable. -- Audiofile Magazine Brennan delivers witty, nervy, romantic adventure that fizzes with feeling and giddy imagination. -- Leigh Bardugo, bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom A subversive, sneaky, glorious tale of magic, longing, and growing into your wings. -- Holly Black, author of The Darkest Part of the Forest