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WICKED WISH

An often entertaining coming-of-age romance with a supernatural twist.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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Being a teenager is tough, but being one who can make bad things happen with a wish is even tougher in Gordon’s paranormal YA novel.

Eighteen-year-old high school senior Regan Braaten is not what she appears. Though her life features everyday teen struggles, she also possesses the ability to control other people’s minds and actions with a wish. The discovery of this power came at a cost, specifically, the death of her father in an accident, for which Regan feels guilty. Regan’s mother moves the family from Anchorage, Alaska, to Wyoming, where the teen helps her grandparents on their ranch, gets a job at a local restaurant, and navigates life as a new girl in town with a big secret. She soon gets involved with two boys: Jude, a mysterious, artistic type with a “deep, smoky voice” and dark eyes, and Layne, the star of the high school football team and boyfriend of ruthless queen bee Gabby; as a member of a powerful local family, Gabby could make life very difficult for Regan. Later, to avenge those that Gabby has hurt, Regan puts her newfound skills to the test. Gordon’s book employs a very familiar romance trope in which an outcast girl must choose between two vastly different boys who are enthralled by her, and a significant portion of the plot revolves around this dilemma; as a result, deeper topics, such as guilt and loss, feel relatively glossed over. However, the plot gains more nuance when Regan realizes that she might not be the only one with extraordinary abilities. The novel’s main strength is its pacing; the dialogue, exposition, and action all move quickly, and readers will be kept guessing as to what Regan will do next, particularly in her romantic life: Will she choose Layne, whose normalcy encourages her to keep her powers in check, or Jude, who accepts her for who she really is? Meanwhile, mysterious dark-suited men seem to be following her, which adds intrigue.

An often entertaining coming-of-age romance with a supernatural twist.

Pub Date: July 5, 2023

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 338

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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