Born in Minneapolis, MN; married. Education: Brown University, graduated.
Writer. Worked in a bookstore; City Pages, Minneapolis, MN, theater critic; Phoenix, Portland, ME, arts writer.
Minnesota Book Award, and Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, both for Spilling Clarence.
NOVELS; FOR ADULTS
Spilling Clarence, Theia (New York, NY), 2002.
The Disapparation of James, Theia (New York, NY), 2003.
"CRONUS CHRONICLES"; YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS
The Shadow Thieves illustrated by Eric Fortune, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.
The Siren Song, illustrated by Eric Fortune, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2007.
The Promethean Flame, illustrated by Eric Fortune, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor of reviews and articles to periodicals, including various newspapers and Glamour magazine.
Anne Ursu began her career writing for adults before turning her attention to a younger reading audience with the "Cronus Chronicles" novels. In the series, Ursu draws readers into a world peopled by characters from Greek myth and legend. There, modern-day characters find themselves embarking on a challenging and sometimes frightening quest that leads them from the depths of Hades' underworld to the heights of Mount Olympus, home of the gods. In addition to several works of adult fiction, she has penned theatre and arts reviews for regional newspapers, and also seen her articles published in national periodicals such as Glamour magazine. Discussing her decision to write for younger readers, Ursu noted in an interview for Powells. com that, in addition to her own love of reading children's books, younger readers "give you a chance to really be a storyteller. And there are no limits; a kid never tells you what you can and can't do in a book—they just want good stories, no matter where those stories take them."
Ursu begins her "Cronus Chronicles" with The Shadow Thieves, which finds thirteen-year-old Charlotte teaming up with her visiting cousin Zee and her English teacher Mr. Metos, to discover the origin of the strange illness that has rendered most of Zee's schoolmates comatose. A trip to the underworld leads the trio to the source of the plague: Philonecron, an immortal demi-demon who has tapped into the students' spirits as a means of animating the shadow army with which he hopes to overthrow Hades, god of the underworld. Battles with animated skeletons, vampires, and harpies provide high points in Ursu's humorous, Greek-inspired story, which Horn Book contributor Anita L. Burkam deemed a "fast-paced action adventure." Charlotte's "irreverently casual" narration contains "a ridiculous exaggeration that pleasantly leavens the danger," Burkam added, while in Booklist Holly Koelling noted that the teen's narrative tone contains "such unabashed cheerfulness and gusto that readers will find much to enjoy." "With a wit and cynicism that will enchant most readers, Ursu weaves an extraordinary tale," concluded School Library Journal reviewer Lisa Marie Williams in a review of The Shadow Thieves, while a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed the book "a fun and funny tale of youthful heroism." The "Cronus Chronicles," which features illustrations by Eric Fortune, continues with The Siren Song.
The first of Ursu's adult novels, Spilling Clarence, is set in Clarence, Minnesota, a fictional college town that also boasts a psychopharmaceutical plant. When a fire breaks out in the plant and a chemical cloud is released into the air, town residents are told to stay indoors while men in hazmat suits enter the area. Although an assurance of safety is made, the mind-altering drug deletrium begins to cause the townspeople's forgotten memories to return. In Ursu's story, the focus rests on the experiences of a small group of people stranded at a local bookstore café as a result of this drug. Christine Perkins commented in her Library Journal review of Spilling Clarence that "Ursu is a writer who cares deeply about her characters." "With compelling, scarred characters and a cleverly rendered setting, Ursu's debut is both thought-provoking and enjoyable," concluded Booklist critic Kristine Huntley.
Ursu followed Spilling Carence with The Disapparation of James. In this haunting novel, a Midwestern family's outing to a traveling circus results in tragedy when the five-year-old son participates in a clown's disappearing act and consequently vanishes, leaving his parents distraught and his pragmatic older sister determined to solve the mystery. Ursu's story focuses on "the worry and longing, guilt and rage, protectiveness and resentment that characterize parental love," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, and in Kliatt Nola Theiss concluded that the novelist "writes with great feeling and empathy for the family members." While noting that the boy's disappearance is never explained, Booklist contributor Elsa Gaztamide nonetheless praised The Disapparation of James as "a very innovative work of fiction" that focuses on the evolution of a family loss "in a credible and insightful fashion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 631; March 1, 2006, Holly Koelling, review of The Shadow Thieves, p. 94.
Horn Book, March-April, 2006, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Shadow Thieves, p. 197.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2001, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 1578; October 15, 2002, review of The Disapparation of James, p. 1502; March 1, 2006, review of The Shadow Thieves, p. 241.
Kliatt, May, 2004, Nola Theiss, review of The Disapparation of James, p. 24.
Library Journal, November 15, 2001, Christine Perkins, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 99.
New York Times Book Review, July 28, 2002, Jeff Waggoner, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 17.
Philadelphia Inquirer, January 6, 2002, Carlin Romano, review of Spilling Clarence.
Publishers Weekly, November 12, 2001, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 34; October 28, 2002, review of The Disapparation of James, p. 46.
School Library Journal, April, 2006, Lisa Marie Williams, review of The Shadow Thieves, p. 149.
Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), June 17, 2002, Susan Larson, review of Spilling Clarence.
USA Today, January 30, 2001, Jackie Pray, review of Spilling Clarence.
US Weekly, January 7, 2002, Janet Steen, review of Spilling Clarence, p. 64.
Anne Ursu Home Page,http://www.anneursu.com (March 15, 2007).
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 2, 2002), Kate Ayers, review of Spilling Clarence and interview with Ursu.
Powells.com,http://www.powells.com/kidsqa/ (March 15, 2007), "Anne Ursu."