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THE PRISONER'S THRONE

From the Stolen Heir series , Vol. 2

Another bewitching tale: love-talker indeed.

Damaged people damage each other as they fight for love and power.

Oak, the reluctant heir to Elfhame, shows the world an insouciant, feckless facade, but secretly he’s cunning and ruthless like his sister Jude, the High Queen of Faerie. Readers began to see Oak’s layers, filtered through Wren’s traumatized and not always reliable gaze, in the first half of this duology, 2023’s The Stolen Heir. Here, the near-third-person perspective follows Oak and reveals the truth: He’s a gancanagh (or love-talker) who commands devotion through speaking but who fears that no one sees, much less cares for, his real self. In love with Wren and imprisoned by her in the Court of Teeth, he proposes marriage to avoid his sister attacking Wren’s court. Oak then must negotiate family, enemies, and a very fraught courtship with someone who may be too damaged to love him back (but who may also be the only one who sees through him), all amid the glittering poison that is his own home court. Black’s Faerie world, which is filled with diverse Folk (Oak has hooves; Wren has blue skin and pointed teeth), manages to be both alluring and terrifying, with love and betrayal as constant companions. This volume will appeal to the author’s old fans; new ones should start with the previous entry.

Another bewitching tale: love-talker indeed. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9780316592710

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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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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CHILDREN OF ANGUISH AND ANARCHY

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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