And by that, I don't mean books that bridge between readers and chapter books, I mean books that move readers from one genre to another. Case in point is Mary Downing Hahn's Witch Catcher, which I'm reviewing in the July/August Horn Book. I've enjoyed Hahn's books, both gothics and historical fiction, for years, but publisher Clarion is calling this one her "first fantasy novel." While technically inaccurate (since ghost stories--of which Hahn is a master--are fantasy), I think what they mean is that this is her first book with magical beings, witches and fairies, in it. Does this kind of fantasy have a name? Domestic fantasy?
What I'm admiring about it is the way Hahn begins with motifs and themes that her impressive fan club will enjoy (a bookish heroine, a mysterious old house) and only then introducing the fairies and witches, thus giving fans what they want and then taking them someplace new. I could see suggesting this to a kid for whom Harry Potter is too noisy and Susan Cooper too intimidating: too much magic.