An earnest first novel from a promising author.

DON'T CALL THE WOLF

Unlikely allies battle a dragon in this myth-inspired fantasy.

In a ravaged kingdom, a fierce golden dragon reigns supreme in the mountains after laying waste to the royal palace and devouring its occupants. Pestilence and darkness brought by its presence spread throughout the land, corrupting humans and drawing forth evil creatures. The kingdom’s only hope for survival lies in a shape-shifting queen of the forest and a wounded soldier from the mountains. Wolf-Lord Lukasz is the last survivor among his siblings; all nine of his brothers supposedly died trying to kill the Golden Dragon; Ren, the queen of the animals, distrusts humans for their past cruelties and prefers remaining in animal form. Alternating between chapters set in the past and present, the narrative introduces central characters who must overcome the pain of their personal histories before they can be heroes. In her debut novel, Ross pulls from various mythologies to create a world teeming with mystical creatures and lurking dangers. The novel is a page-turner that suffers from its own excesses; so many creatures are introduced in the story that it is difficult to keep them straight. Readers aren’t given sufficient time to bond with Ren and Lukasz as characters before they are swept into a grand adventure. Ren and Lukasz are pale skinned.

An earnest first novel from a promising author. (pronunciation guide) (Fantasy. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287797-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Will cast a spell on romance fans.

SERPENT & DOVE

From the Serpent & Dove series , Vol. 1

A stealth witch and a devout witch hunter are forced to marry.

In this French-flavored fantasy world, witches are hunted down by the Church’s Chasseurs and burned at the stake; they retaliate against this genocidal crusade through vicious terrorist attacks. Thief Louise le Blanc wants none of that—she’s left her witch life behind. But Lou ends up on Chasseur captain Reid Diggory’s radar when a heist goes bad; his attempt to catch her lands them in a situation so compromising that the archbishop suggests marriage to save face. Lou’s initial priority is self-protection—wanting to avoid both fallout from the heist and a dangerous figure from her past—and she’s fine with using Reid. The slow-burn, opposites-attract romance between crass, irreverent Lou and prim and proper Reid gets very hot and sexy once it ignites. Lou sees firsthand the damages some witches do to innocents, has her presumptions about individual Chasseurs challenged, and also sees up close the horrors Chasseurs perpetrate. Despite occasional pacing hiccups and an easily guessed twist, the secondary characters will charm readers, and the story picks up when Lou’s past dangerously catches up to her, revealing the true stakes. Though at heart a romance, rich second-tier characters round out the shades-of-gray, morality-and-empathy themes. Witches, Chasseurs, and some secondary characters come in all colors; the leads appear white. The ending screams sequel.

Will cast a spell on romance fans. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287802-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Only marginally intriguing.

REDEMPTION PREP

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more