Why novels?  Because sometimes you get sick of fact checking and just want to write about haunted forests and iceberg fortresses. 



Penguin, 2017
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy


Thousands of miles south of the island of Bliss, day and night last for 72 hours. Here is one of the natural wonders of this world: a whirlpool thirty miles wide and a hundred miles around. This is the Drain. Anything sucked into its frothing, turbulent waters is never seen again.

Wren has spent most of her life on Edgeland, a nearby island where people bring their dead to be blessed and prepared for the afterlife. There the dead are loaded into boats with treasure and sent over the cliff, and into the Drain. Orphaned and alone, Wren dreams of escaping Edgeland, and her chance finally comes when furriers from the Polar north arrive with their dead, and treasure for their dead.

With the help of her friend Alec, Wren plans to loot one of the boats before it enters the Drain. But the boat–with Alec and Wren onboard–is sucked into the whirlpool. What they discover beyond the abyss is beyond what anyone could have imagined.



★ “Halpern and Kujawinksi have constructed a refreshing, original fantasy that thoughtfully probes the subjects of class, religion, and morality. . . . Compellingly written, this otherworldly adventure is a unique offering that deserves attention.”—Booklist, [starred review]

“An imaginative adventure/fantasy exploring the afterlife. Edgeland is a place more for the living than for the dead. . . . Recommended for fans of James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” series, this is a solid addition to collections serving upper middle grade and middle school readers.”—School Library Journal

“In this intriguing fantasy, two friends discover the secret of life after death as they travel to the realm where people go to await their final fate . . . . Halpern and Kujawinski provide a fascinating world, and their story is fueled by a strong premise and compelling protagonists”—Publishers Weekly




Penguin, 2015
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy


On Marin’s island, the sunrise only comes every twenty-eight years. But it’s not the dawn she has to worry about. When sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders of Bliss must quickly prepare to sail south, where they will wait out the long, fourteen years of unforgiving Night. Marin and her twin brother, Kana, ready their house for departure: locks must be taken off doors, furniture arranged, tables set. The rituals are bizarre, but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.

Just as the ships are about to sail, a boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line has gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.  And it may already be too late.



“Creepy.”—Us Weekly

“Cinematic.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fall’s biggest thriller novel.”—

“Halpern and Kujawinski invent a fascinating world that comes to life, full of intriguing monsters . . . The teens’ desperate journey to find their way off the island will keep readers turning pages.”—Kirkus Reviews


The Dormia Trilogy

Houghton Mifflin
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy


Ordinary sleepwalkers wake up in the living room or in the kitchen eating ice cream. But twelve-year-old Alfonso tends to wake up tightrope-walking along a set of power lines or clinging to the top of a massive, wind-blown pine tree. No one in his hometown of World's End, Minnesota has seen anything like it, until one wintry evening an old man arrives at Alfonso's doorstep with an astounding explanation.

The old man introduces himself as Hill, Alfonso's long lost uncle. He spins a wild tale of Dormia, a kingdom hidden in the faraway Ural Mountains whose people have mastered the art of "wakeful sleeping." Dormia is now in grave danger, says Hill, and its survival depends on a mysterious plant called a Dormian Bloom. Once every few centuries, someone of Dormian descent is born with the ability to grow such a plant. Hill suspects this person is Alfonso. But the hour is late, and already they are being hunted.  

Alfonso's journey takes him to an iceberg fortress in the Bering Sea, across the North Pole, and then deep into the snow-bound Ural Mountains. And along the way, he realizes that saving Dormia means discovering the secrets that lurk in his own sleep.  The thee books in the Dormia trilogy -- Dormia, World's End, and The Shadow Tree -- chronicle Alfonso's adventures.