From the League of Seven series , Vol. 3

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

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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016


From the Vega Jane series , Vol. 4

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

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 26, 2019


Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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