An expansive, highly rewarding read.

SKY BREAKER

From the Night Spinner series , Vol. 2

On the heels of Night Spinner (2020), Enebish leads a ragtag band against the Sky King while Ghoa’s beliefs are challenged.

Although Night Spinner Enebish and newly awakened Sun Stoker Serik successfully led the desperate shepherds to Verdenet, finding the hiding king is far more difficult. Enebish’s psychological wounds from being betrayed in the past are still raw, resulting in behaviors that don’t do her any favors when dealing with her increasingly reluctant followers. In Ghoa’s parallel narration, she is forced to reckon with her own feelings of being betrayed, especially as Zemya’s trap springs into action and she takes the brunt of it. Enebish seeks out logical allies while Ghoa strikes an odd partnership, all the while keeping her eye on the prize. Uniting both storylines is the common enemy—Kartok—and the reveal of the full extent of his scheme. Their stories are gracefully balanced, enabling readers to explore more of the lavishly painted worldbuilding and internal mythologies. Characters’ past hurts inform their present decisions, good and bad, creating tension in relation to decisions of trust and forgiveness. The geopolitical situation blends well with the cultural. Ethnicity follows national lines, with Zemyans being very pale and blond; Verdenese like Enebish dark-haired with golden skin; and Ashkarians like Ghoa and her cousin, Serik (Enebish’s love interest in a sweetly romantic subplot), falling in between, with tanned skin and freckles. The conclusion thoroughly wraps up the duology.

An expansive, highly rewarding read. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64567-130-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...

DOROTHY MUST DIE

When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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