Exciting concept; underwhelming execution.

THE DARK TIDE

Once a year in the city-island of Caldella, the powerful Witch Queen leaves her Water Palace to find her true love, whom she must drown to appease the dark tide of the ever hungry ocean.

Thomas Lin is the only boy who’s ever escaped—by convincing the last Witch Queen to drown herself instead. Ever since then, her sister, Eva, who is the new Witch Queen, has been unable to appease the dark tide—she’s felt nothing for the boys she’s sacrificed. When Thomas is chosen a second time, Lina, a town girl with a crush, decides to rescue Thomas from the Water Palace and volunteer as sacrifice to make sure both Thomas and her own brother stay safe. As Lina and Eva spend more time together, they realize that they have a surprising amount in common: their love for their siblings, their desperation to change the sacrificial system, and their desire for one another. The close third-person narration is focalized alternately through Lina and Eva, and although Lina’s perspective provides greater depth, the narrative voice for each is removed, with more telling than showing. Characters are racially ambiguous but often implied through skin tone to be nonwhite. Diverse sexualities and gender expressions are also implied, but heteroromanticism is disappointingly the default.

Exciting concept; underwhelming execution. (Fantasy. 16-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0998-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for...

A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT

From the Court of Thorns and Roses series , Vol. 4

A glimpse of the characters dealing with rebuilding and fallout after A Court of Wings and Ruin (2017).

In a change of pace from the usual epic struggle against powerful forces, this slimmer-than-usual volume follows the cast during the festive Winter Solstice holiday. Nods to trouble on the horizon (dissent in the Illyrian ranks, Fae courts eyeing for expansion, and a politically fraught situation among humans) remain distant, the lack of progress at times resulting in frustrating repetition. Cassian’s and Mor’s backstories are explored, and prickly Amren’s low-key relationship storyline is supplemented by her High Fae adjustments (including bodily humor). While Elain is becoming more comfortable, she still wants nothing to do with Lucien (who feels like an outsider nearly everywhere and has his hands full with a self-destructive Tamlin). Severely struggling Nesta self-medicates through alcohol, meaningless sex, pushing everyone away, and finding every last seedy corner of the otherwise utopian Velaris. While Rhys handles politics, Feyre’s storyline revolves around Solstice shopping and art’s potential for healing trauma—when the lovers aren’t telepathically sexting or craving each other. Aside from occasional minor characters, most of the inhuman cast seem white. Several plotlines are predictably resolved.

With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for readers who’d prefer downtime with the characters over high stakes. (map, preview of next title) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-631-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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