Deep worldbuilding offering little magic to keep the pages turning.

THE LOST CITY

From the Omte Origins series , Vol. 1

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 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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Not everybody lives, and certainly not “happily ever after”—but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and...

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THE HAZEL WOOD

From the Hazel Wood series , Vol. 1

A ferocious young woman is drawn into her grandmother’s sinister fairy-tale realm in this pitch-black fantasy debut.

Once upon a time, Althea Proserpine achieved a cult celebrity with Tales from the Hinterland, a slim volume of dark, feminist fairy tales, but Alice has never met her reclusive grandmother nor visited her eponymous estate. Instead, she has spent her entire 17 years on the run from persistent bad luck, relying only on her mother, Ella. Now Althea is dead and Ella has been kidnapped, and the Hinterland seems determined to claim Alice as well. The Hinterland—and the Stories that animate it—appear as simultaneously wondrous and horrific, dreamlike and bloody, lyrical and creepy, exquisitely haunting and casually, brutally cruel. White, petite, and princess-pretty Alice is a difficult heroine to like in her stormy (and frequently profane) narration, larded with pop-culture and children’s-literature references and sprinkled with wry humor; her deceptive fragility conceals a scary toughness, icy hostility, and simmering rage. Despite her tentative friendship (and maybe more) with Ellery Finch, a wealthy biracial, brown-skinned geek for all things Althea Proserpine, any hints of romance are negligible compared to the powerful relationships among women: mothers and daughters, sisters and strangers, spinner and stories; ties of support and exploitation and love and liberation.

Not everybody lives, and certainly not “happily ever after”—but within all the grisly darkness, Alice’s fierce integrity and hard-won self-knowledge shine unquenched. (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14790-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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