A fitting capstone to an epic adventure replete with monsters, huge explosions, clever twists, and just deserts.

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THE MONSTER WAR

From the League of Seven series , Vol. 3

Seven young heroes, together at last and diverse in many ways, tackle armies of monsters as well as a cycle of warfare that has turned for thousands of years.

“League of Seven—full steam ahead!” In this headlong climax, Gratz adds the final two members to his intrepid band of world savers: tattooed, gray-skinned “science-pirate” Martine, whose synesthetic perceptions come in handy more than once; and Gonzalo, a blind young Texas Ranger with a talkative, intelligent raygun dubbed Señor X. Colorful as these and the other League members are, both in the story and in Helquist’s stylish portraits at each chapter’s head, the central figure remains Archie Dent, a superstrong lad snow-white of skin and hair and made from solid rock. Here, as previously, Archie’s internal struggles with rage and guilt parallel a string of awesomely destructive battles he and his allies have with the immortal Mangleborn and part-human Manglespawn led by tentacled archnemesis Philomena Moffett. Following a climactic battle at Gettysburg and a final dust-up with Moffett atop the great statue of Hiawatha in the harbor of New Rome (this is a very alternate, clockwork America), it only remains to expose the secret Septemberist Society, whose suppression of scientific research has misguidedly perpetuated the Mangleborn’s cyclical return down through the centuries.

A fitting capstone to an epic adventure replete with monsters, huge explosions, clever twists, and just deserts. (map) (Steampunk. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3824-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last.

THE STARS BELOW

From the Vega Jane series , Vol. 4

The rebellion against an evil archmage and his bowler-topped minions wends its way to a climax.

Dispatching five baddies on the first two pages alone, wand-waving villain-exterminator Vega Jane gathers a motley army of fellow magicals, ghosts, and muggles—sorry, “Wugmorts”—for a final assault on Necro and his natty Maladons. As Necro repeatedly proves to be both smarter and more powerful than Vega Jane, things generally go badly for the rebels, who end up losing their hidden refuge, many of their best fighters, and even the final battle. Baldacci is plainly up on his ancient Greek theatrical conventions, however; just as all hope is lost, a divinity literally descends from the ceiling to referee a winner-take-all duel, and thanks to an earlier ritual that (she and readers learn) gives her a do-over if she’s killed (a second deus ex machina!), Vega Jane comes away with a win…not to mention an engagement ring to go with the magic one that makes her invisible and a new dog, just like the one that died heroically. Measuring up to the plot’s low bar, the narrative too reads like low-grade fanfic, being laden with references to past events, characters who only supposedly died, and such lines as “a spurt of blood shot out from my forehead,” “they started falling at a rapid number,” and “[h]is statement struck me on a number of levels.”

Awful on a number of levels—but tidily over at last. (glossary) (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26393-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

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Much rousing sturm und drang, though what’s left after the dust settles is a heap of glittering but disparate good parts...

THE ENCHANTRESS

From the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series , Vol. 5

Scott tops off his deservedly popular series with a heaping shovelful of monster attacks, heroic last stands, earthquakes and other geological events, magic-working, millennia-long schemes coming to fruition, hearts laid bare, family revelations, transformations, redemptions and happy endings (for those deserving them).

Multiple plotlines—some of which, thanks to time travel, feature the same characters and even figures killed off in previous episodes—come to simultaneous heads in a whirl of short chapters. Flamel and allies (including Prometheus and Billy the Kid) defend modern San Francisco from a motley host of mythological baddies. Meanwhile, in ancient Danu Talis (aka Atlantis), Josh and Sophie are being swept into a play to bring certain Elders to power as the city’s downtrodden “humani” population rises up behind Virginia Dare, the repentant John Dee and other Immortals and Elders. The cast never seems unwieldy despite its size, the pacing never lets up, and the individual set pieces are fine mixtures of sudden action, heroic badinage and cliffhanger cutoffs. As a whole, though, the tale collapses under its own weight as the San Francisco subplots turn out to be no more than an irrelevant sideshow, and climactic conflicts take place on an island that is somehow both a historical, physical place and a higher reality from which Earth and other “shadowrealms” are spun off.

Much rousing sturm und drang, though what’s left after the dust settles is a heap of glittering but disparate good parts rather than a cohesive whole. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73535-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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