A decadent fantasy anchored in childhood delights with vibrantly detailed writing and brilliantly theatrical subplots.

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A prophecy tells of a prince and princess who can save the world by joining their warring kingdoms.

“Once upon a nightmare, a princess was born in the kingdom of perpetual daylight.” So begins this dizzying mashup of fairy tales with a kaleidoscopic cast of characters. Princess Lyra and Prince Vesper hail from the dichotomous kingdoms of a world shorn in half by blood magic. Pale Lyra, a royal outsider with “iridescent eyes” and “hair, eyebrows, and lashes so silvery-white and glistening,” is the only person in Eldoria, the kingdom of endless sunlight, whose skin burns when exposed to sunshine. Vesper, “dark-haired, copper-skinned,” and “raven-eyed,” the defiant prince of a dark underworld, is “the only Nerezethite prince who’d been born night-blind in centuries.” When Lyra’s evil aunt Griselda conspires to kill the king, the worlds are further threatened by war and chaos. The greatest hope is a prophecy that tells of a prince and princess who “will be complete and embrace their oddities to bring the sun and moon together again.” In this sublimely detailed fantasy with elaborately drawn characters and breathtaking plot twists, fantasy is unrestrained and oftentimes wordy. Story arcs stop and sputter as they quest their way through magical thorns and honeysuckle brambles, but the patient reader will blow well past bedtime to stay up with this riveting tale.

A decadent fantasy anchored in childhood delights with vibrantly detailed writing and brilliantly theatrical subplots. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3141-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue.

SHIELDED

From the Shielded series , Vol. 1

A princess fights to save her kingdom while trying to conceal her magic.

On the eve of her 17th birthday, Princess Jennesara learns of her betrothal to the prince of Turia, an alliance made by her father to secure the neighboring kingdom’s military support in quelling the fighting at his borders. Before she is sent away to safety in Turia, she learns of other worrying developments brewing at home: A burned letter references a search for the mages’ library, illicit magic is being used in skirmishes at the borders, and there is a potential betrayal within her father’s circle of trust. She frets, too, about her own secret magic being discovered, for only her older brother, Ren, is supposed to possess magic. On their way to Turia, Jenna’s party is ambushed and she narrowly escapes. She is forced to fend for herself and find her own way to Turia to discover who betrayed her family and what secrets lie in the rumored mages’ library. Jenna conceals her identity and ingratiates herself with her betrothed’s family as she eludes the threat of a shadowy, sinister foe. Though overflowing with common fantasy tropes and featuring lengthy expository passages, this series opener nevertheless features affable characters and moves at a solid clip that will keep readers entertained. Jenna’s people are fair-haired while Turians are olive-skinned with dark hair.

May well beguile readers with its mix of magic and political intrigue. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11853-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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