Aggressively mediocre—with hardly any smithing.



A girl is destined to become a magical blacksmith who helps her country’s restoration.

Ara’s father was the Loresmith—a blacksmith gifted by the gods with the magic to equip and guide the Loreknights in order to prevent the evil Vokkan Empire from overrunning Saetlund. But corruption weakened Saetlund from within, and it fell. Fifteen years later, Ara’s a smith who doesn’t know how to access her Loresmith destiny, as her father didn’t survive to train her. When Saetlund’s princess and prince return from exile to seek her out (believing that getting the gods’ blessing will enable Ara to take up the Loresmith mantle and turn the tide against the Vokkans), she sets off on a quest with them, forming a small band, with ties to the Resistance, naturally. The storyline is straightforward and mostly free of obstacles and setbacks; there are only minimal intrigues and twists (all of which are heavily forecasted). The third-person limited narrative following Ara is slow-paced and given to large chunks of exposition. At the conclusion, one quest is finished in time for the next quest to be assigned, and a character who (hopefully) will have more prominence in the sequel is teased. Ara is white; the royals are brown skinned, as is Ara’s love interest. While there’s association between ethnicity and geography, the racial diversity has no impact on the plot or world.

Aggressively mediocre—with hardly any smithing. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-95412-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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