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HOW THE KING OF ELFHAME LEARNED TO HATE STORIES

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 3.5

Fan-service? Yes—and fans will rejoice in every dark, luscious moment.

Once upon a time....

In Faerie, a cruel prince met his match in Jude, a human raised in his world. An entire trilogy tells their tale from her perspective; now the prince gets center stage. This lavishly illustrated tome, more a series of vignettes than a complete novel, shows critical moments in Cardan’s life, including moments previously seen through Jude’s perspective. The entirety is framed within a moment that takes place after the end of The Queen of Nothing (2019), providing a glimpse into the maturing relationships between Jude and Cardan and between Cardan and his responsibilities as High King of Elfhame, a land whose multihued, multiformed denizens cannot lie. Woven throughout are three iterations of a story, initially told to a young Cardan, each version different in specifics and moral but all centered on a boy with a heart of stone and a monstrous, cursed bride. Readers familiar with Cardan and Jude’s tumultuous and sometimes troubling love will recognize notes within this repeated tale, but each telling also stands alone as a complete tale, one that feels both inevitable and fresh. Black continues to build an ever expanding mythos with her Faerie stories, and while this volume requires prior knowledge of The Folk of the Air trilogy, it offers new delights along with familiar moments retold.

Fan-service? Yes—and fans will rejoice in every dark, luscious moment. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-54088-9

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250840776

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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