From the Omte Origins series , Vol. 1

Deep worldbuilding offering little magic to keep the pages turning.

Growing up ignorant of her true parentage, a troll makes it her mission to discover her origins.

Ulla Tulin was abandoned as a baby, left behind by Orra, an Omte troll warrior. Growing up in Iskyla, a frigid village in central Canada, surrounded by Inuit villagers and brown-skinned, good-looking Kanin trolls, tall, pale, sturdily built Ulla stood out. As a teen she ends up in Förening, Minnesota, the Trylle tribe’s capital, where she finds work as a nanny. Though she loves her employers, she yearns for more. An internship in the Mimirin, the troll world’s research and history center in the city of Merellä, means she can research Orra. Immediately, there are hiccups, however: 12-year-old Hanna, one of the children she nannied, stows away, and a runaway with rainbow-colored hair crash-lands on her Jeep. Flirtation blooms between Ulla and fellow researcher Pan as well as with a mysterious stranger she keeps running into. Information about Orra is redacted, and higher-ups in the Mimirin discourage her from digging deeper; the more Ulla learns, the more the mystery expands. Though the world and its lore are impressively expansive, the weight of detailing them often causes Ulla’s journey to drag. A side character’s mysterious past offers more tension than Ulla’s, heralding a much needed but ultimately flat flash of action at the climax. Pan is part Kanin troll and part Inuit.

Deep worldbuilding offering little magic to keep the pages turning. (tribal facts, glossary) (Fantasy. 16-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20426-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

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. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019


From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 2

A very full mixed bag.

In the sequel to Furyborn (2018), Rielle and Eliana struggle across time with their powers and prophesied destinies.

Giving readers only brief recaps, this book throws them right into complicated storylines in this large, lovingly detailed fantasy world filled with multiple countries, two different time periods, and hostile angels. Newly ordained Rielle contends with villainous Corien’s interest in her, the weakening gate that holds the angels at bay, and distrust from those who don’t believe her to be the Sun Queen. A thousand years in the future, Eliana chafes under her unwanted destiny and finds her fear of losing herself to her powers (like the Blood Queen) warring with her need to save those close to her. The rigid alternation between time-separated storylines initially feels overstuffed, undermining tension, but once more characters get point-of-view chapters and parallels start paying off, the pace picks up. The multiethnic cast (human versus angelic is the only divide with weight) includes characters of many sexual orientations, and their romantic storylines include love triangles, casual dalliances, steady couples, and couples willing to invite in a third. While many of the physically intimate scenes are loving, some are rougher, including ones that cross lines of clear consent and introduce a level of violence that many young readers will not be ready for. The ending brings heartbreaking twists to prime readers for the trilogy’s conclusion.

A very full mixed bag. (map, list of elements) (Fantasy. 17-adult)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5665-4

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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