Next book

AN AFFAIR OF POISONS

Based on true events, Thorley’s debut is somewhat forgettable but shows promise nonetheless.

A teenage alchemist and a disgraced royal bastard scheme their way through a magical reimagining of pre-Revolutionary Paris.

Mirabelle is a provisional member of her mother’s Shadow Society, an underground group of nobles working to overthrow Louis XIV. A talented alchemist, she can create potions to ease suffering or cause horrific death. Unbeknownst to her—and to her horror and dismay—the Society uses her skill to assassinate the king. Josse is one of the Sun King’s illegitimate children, resentful of his half brother the dauphin, and in the chaos caused by his father’s death, he flees Versailles with his siblings. Told in alternating perspectives, Mira and Josse try to stay alive, to quell the chaos plaguing Paris, and to use their strengths and abilities for good instead of ill. An author’s note discusses the real-life Affair of Poisons and Catherine Monvoisin, called a “Duchess Among Witches” and portrayed here as a sinister, heartless villain. There’s enough in here to interest readers with a taste for fantastical historical fiction, alchemy, and political machinations, but flat characterization and a flatter romance keep this from a broader appeal. Descriptions of mysterious illnesses, deadly smoke creatures, and villainous nobles liven the story but can only carry the uninspired writing so far. Two minor characters are described as brown-skinned; others are assumed white.

Based on true events, Thorley’s debut is somewhat forgettable but shows promise nonetheless. (author’s note, additional reading) (Historical fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-713-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Next book

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Close Quickview