Elana K. Arnold

Carolrhoda Lab, 2015

Plot Summary

Sephora Golding lives in the shadow of her unbelievably beautiful mother. Even though they scrape by in the seedier part of Venice Beach, she's always felt lucky. As a child, she imagined she was a minor but beloved character in her mother's fairy tale. But now, at sixteen, the fairy tale is less Disney and more Grimm. And she wants the story to be her own.

Then she meets Felix, and the fairy tale takes a turn she never imagined.

"Things don't really turn out the way they do in fairy tales. I'm telling you that right up front, so you're not disappointed later."

Sometimes, a story is just a way to hide the unspeakable in plain sight.


  • Kirkus (Mar. 1, 2015): “A coming-of-age story consciously reminiscent of Lolita, this multifaceted portrayal of family bonds surprises with its nuanced and sometimes-searing emotional gravity.” (Starred review).

  • Booklist (Jan. 1, 2015): “Clocking in at just 200 pages, this is a story that packs no less of a punch for its brevity. Sephora’s grim reimaginings of fairy tales are anti-Disney in the extreme (making this best suited for more mature readers). The strands are worked so surely into the narrative that they feel powerful instead of tired. Sephora herself is a narrator who defies convention, and her story, harsh and spare, is unforgettable.” (Starred review).

  • Publishers Weekly (Jan. 19, 2015): “Making haunting use of interspersed myths and fairy tales rife with brutal depictions of cannibalism, mutilation, and rape, Arnold (Sacred) crafts a simmering mystery about Sephora’s secret shame, her personal infandous—the ‘unspeakable shit’ she carries with her. [...] Sephora’s painful journey and its lack of easy answers will stick with readers, as will its razor-sharp commentaries on sexual and societal double standards.”

School Library Journal (Feb. 2015): “The strength of this story lies in the legitimate connections made between modern times and classic myths/fairy tales. Arnold's fresh and exciting plot twist is unexpected, elevated by the lyrical writing style. The story is full of mature content, including language and thinly veiled sexual references. A well-written and evenly paced dramatic tale about finding peace in ones own situation.” (Not archived online, accessed via Ebsco).


Westchester Fiction Award, 2016

Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Gold Medalist, 2015


Kirkus’ 9 Teen Titles Adults Shouldn’t Miss, 2015



“9 Teen Titles Adults Shouldn't Miss.” Kirkus. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

“Infandous.” (2015, March 1). Kirkus. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

“Infandous.” (2015, January 19). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

“2015 Moonbeam Medalists.” Moonbeam Children's Book Award. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

“Westchester Fiction Award.” Westchester Fiction Award. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

Lane, Chad. (2014, December). “Infandous.” School Library Journal, 60(12), 130-130.

Reagan, M. “Infandous.” (2015, January 1). Booklist. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from


Updated 4 November 2022

Book Resume created by Virginia Library Association and PDSAL