Steven Arntson

Steven Arntson lives in Seattle, where he divides his time between writing stories and playing music. He is the author of The Wikkeling (2011), The Wrap-Up List (2012), and The Trap (2015). He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. More information about Steven can be found at his website:


THE TRAP (2015)

Leaving your body is easy. Getting back is where the trouble starts. 

 It is 1963 in Farro, Iowa, where he not much happens — at least until the school bully goes missing and four seventh-graders find a book that allows them to literally have out-of-body experiences. Following the directions in the book Henry Nilsson, his twin sister Helen, and their friends, Chinese-American Nicki and part Nez Perce Alan, travel through the “subtle plane,” where they are both invisible and invincible. They quickly discover that they are not the only ones with this amazing ability. In addition to the creepy man who keeps appearing out of nowhere, a violin-playing ghost and the missing school bully, there is a whole organization dedicated to policing the subtle plane. But it is up to Henry and his friends to thwart the evil schemes of a crazy genius and see if they can rescue Carl, Alan’s troubled brother. This riveting science-fiction mystery is much more than an exciting read. The subtle world may be dangerous, but Henry and his friends find that the real world poses its own challenges. Together, they grapple with racism, poverty and alcoholism, all while nursing their first crushes and dealing with the angst of the upcoming fall formal. Arnston folds all of these elements into his narration without compromising pacing or characterization one bit.

“An amazing blend of mystery, romance, science fiction, and social commentary.” —Kirkus Review, starred review

“Henry’s introspective, self-effacing narration brims with evocative details and descriptions…unspooling a haunting and suspenseful story that will resonate with science-fiction fans as well as anyone who has needed to find the courage to ask a date to the big dance.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Aptly named, The Trap is a deceptively breezy, fast-paced mystery with an engaging kid narrator. Arntson weaves classic sci-fi elements into a fresh, fantastical story ideal for middle grades on up.” Booklist

Rights: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, North America




In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late? Friendship, first love, and fantasy artfully mesh in this magically realistic world that ultimately celebrates life.

The Wrap-Up List was a finalist for the 2014 Washington State Book Award.

 "Quirky, charming and life-affirming, supernatural style." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"With a strong mystery at its core and fantasy elements, this has potential to appeal to a wide range of readers." Booklist

Rights: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, North America; Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein, UK



Nominated for The Youth Booklist Editor’s Choice Award 2011, a middle-grade adventure set in a near-future dystopia and told in the smart and playful style of The Mysterious Benedict Society, in which three friends unravel the mystery of their life-threatening migraines, overcome a frightening enemy, and discover that the world is more complicated, and more magical, than they’ve been taught.

“A truly original piece of work. Swinging from funny to creepy to intriguing, it kept me enthralled throughout. I loved it.”—James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner trilogy

“Skillfully written, clever, frightening, and hopeful, it is a tale that feels like a reassuring secret handshake to anyone who believes in the power of books.”—Jacqueline West, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadows

"Provocative and offbeat."—Kirkus Reviews