Bright, brave characters star in this exhilarating tale of magic and mystical creatures.


From the Witches of Orkney series , Vol. 1

An orphan witchling struggles with school bullies and the likelihood that the mother she’s never known betrayed her coven in the launch of Adams’ (The Santa Thief, 2017, etc.) YA fantasy series.

Like all 9-year-olds in the realm of Orkney, Abigail begins her training in witchery at Tarkana Witch Academy. Friends are hard to come by, especially as Endera, daughter of powerful High Witch Melistra, targets Abigail for ridicule. But Abigail fortunately befriends Hugo Suppermill, a scientist-in-training at the Balfin School for Boys. The two are together—outside of their respective schools—when Abigail first uses witchfire. Though she no longer needs to worry that she’s a magicless “glitch-witch,” Abigail is perplexed by her blue witchfire—everyone else’s is emerald-green. She and Hugo soon learn that this unique color could mean she’s the daughter of Lissandra, a Tarkana witch and reputed coven traitor. With Endera using spells (courtesy of Melistra’s spellbook) against Abigail, it’s hard enough for Abigail to avoid expulsion from the academy. But in the swamps outside of Tarkana Fortress, Abigail will face menacing creatures, such as the giant, wolflike viken, while resisting a new, insistent voice in her head that’s trying to turn her toward dark magic. Adams’ entertaining novel is a prequel to her previous series, also set in Orkney. As in her earlier novels, this series’ first installment is rich in Norse mythology, including references to Thor and Asgard. But it’s the main characters that truly boost the narrative. Abigail and Hugo are particularly strong, two devoted pals who seemingly take turns saving one another. The author’s chiseled prose and speedy pace are complemented by Stroh’s (The Raven God, 2017) sharp illustrations, which create memorable images, most notably pigtailed Abigail in a defiant stance. While subplots are resolved, series arcs are likewise established; Abigail, for example, may be part of a dark prophecy with the threat of war—another tie to Adams’ preceding series.

Bright, brave characters star in this exhilarating tale of magic and mystical creatures.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943006-77-9

Page Count: 216

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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