THE RUBICUS PROPHECY

From the Witches of Orkney series , Vol. 2

An enchanting magical sequel that will satisfy fans of the series.

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In the second installment of this middle-grade fantasy series, a young orphan witch may be powerful enough to break a longtime curse.

Abigail’s second year at Tarkana Witch Academy promises to be as strenuous as her first. Fellow student Endera continues to torment her, and Endera’s equally hateful High Witch mother, Melistra, is teaching one of Abigail’s courses. Their animosity stems from an allegation that Abigail’s late mother Lissandra, whom Abigail never knew, was a traitor to their coven. Meanwhile, Abigail’s friend Hugo, who attends the science-based Balfin School for Boys, has heard vague rumors of an impending war. This seems to be connected to recent signs of a prophecy, which says a chosen one will break a curse placed on witches by the god Odin. The Tarkana witches could then take the powerful Odin’s Stone away from the Orkadians, the apparent rulers of the Orkney realm in which they all live—and then declare war on them. According to the prophecy, the Curse Breaker’s magic is “different from any other’s”—much like Abigail’s uniquely blue witchfire. This could mean that Abigail has immensely powerful abilities, which other witches, such as Melistra, desperately crave. Meanwhile, Abigail is fighting to resist a strange, persistent voice that’s trying to draw her toward dark magic. Adams’ (The Blue Witch, 2018, etc.) concise prose delivers a quick read that’s packed with colorful characters and subplots. She skillfully weaves together the stories of new and returning characters, but although the plot is easy to follow, new readers would find it helpful to read the opening installment. The characters have engaging relationships (Abigail acts as an older sister to another witch, Safina) and memorable fantastic elements, as in a dreamlike sequence in which Abigail may be using magic subconsciously. There are some amusing moments, as well, including alliterative course titles, such as Horrible Hexes and Positively Potent Potions. The final act ramps up the tension, and the ending will make readers yearn for a follow-up. Returning illustrator Stroh’s bold black-and-white artwork, as in the previous book, perfectly captures the author’s stunningly detailed world.

An enchanting magical sequel that will satisfy fans of the series.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943006-98-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

THE CROWNS OF CROSWALD

Harry Potter–like threads spun into a fresh, enjoyable mix of magic and mystery.

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A teenage orphan enters a curious school and encounters mysteries and dangerous secrets in this first installment of a debut YA fantasy series.

Life in Croswald is about to change for 16-year-old orphan Ivy, a lowly castle maid in charge of the kitchen “scaldrons,” oven-heating, fire-breathing dragons. Fleeing the castle after a messy scaldron mishap, Ivy hops a strange conveyance that transports her to a school for potential quill-wielding, spell-casting “scrivenists.” (The author’s creative language—students are “sqwinches,” and “hairies” are lanterns housing fairies with luminous hair—is one of the book’s pleasures.) Learning that there is more to her gift for sketching than she realized, Ivy studies spells and the magical properties of inks and quills, but strange things keep happening. Why is an old scrivenist, long thought dead, working in secret? Why is the head of the oddly familiar school moving paintings to the “Forgetting Room” so that no one will remember they existed? How can Ivy get a look at a certain journal stored there, and what does it have to do with her recurrent dream? And why has Ivy drawn the interest of the Dark Queen of Croswald and her truly fearsome Cloaked Brood? The intrigue is layered with such whimsical inventions as one school lunchroom run by ghostly bad cooks and another by a jester who is best avoided, scrivenists who end their lives as tomes in a library, and small houses pulled by a gargantuan flying beast with its own weather system. Yes, there are many Harry Potter–ish elements: a school for young wand-wielders, quirky shops dealing in enchanted student supplies, eccentric characters, spells gone wrong, an evil pursuer. But Night’s blend of magic, danger, and suspense (and a touch of steampunk) is a well-realized, fresh fantasy world all its own, and Ivy is an appealing protagonist of relatable complexity. A few bobbles: Ivy seems to go without food for long stretches; the use of “effected” rather than “affected”; a professor who is both standing and perched on a chair.

Harry Potter–like threads spun into a fresh, enjoyable mix of magic and mystery.

Pub Date: July 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9969486-5-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Stories Untold Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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