A complex and fantastic introduction to an epic new world.


From the Song of the Last Kingdom series , Vol. 1

Two teens struggle to survive in their conquered homeland.

In the city of Haak’gong, Lan gets by as a songgirl, performing and demeaning herself for the Elantians who colonized her homeland, the Last Kingdom. Lan seeks answers behind the curious scar on her wrist, a mark left by her mother, who died at the hands of an Elantian magician. After she is saved from a life-threatening attack by a boy named Zen, Lan discovers that qi practitioners and heroes of legend still exist and that hidden masters hold the truth behind the meaning of the mysterious mark she carries, a secret that could save—or destroy—the kingdom. The complex history of the Last Kingdom is based on Chinese history and reveals the deep impacts of war, forced assimilation and annihilation of clans into one central Hin identity, and colonization, with its rewriting of culture and history. The Elantians read as fantasy equivalents of White Europeans. The magic system is intriguing, with the Last Kingdom’s focus on balance and the elements juxtaposed with the Elantian’s martial, destructive metal-based magic. The explorations of free will and how strength is used are nuanced and contrast wonderfully within the two lead characters. While some major plot points are predictable and some villains feel one-dimensional, the fast pace and evocative prose are intriguing. Although the romance begins with instant attraction, its slow, realistic progression shows growing trust and support.

A complex and fantastic introduction to an epic new world. (chronology, map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-48750-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.


The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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