It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.

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THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT

From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Without sparks to sustain it, the story fizzles.

WAKING IN TIME

She’s going back in time; he’s going forward; they meet in 1961.

Still raw from her grandmother’s death, 18-year-old Abbi takes comfort in the fact that she is starting her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It’s the perfect place, one where the white narrator can make a fresh start and stay close to the memory of Grandma, who once walked the very same halls. But in her wildest dreams, Abbi never could have imagined just how close the two would be. For reasons she is desperate to understand, Abbi finds herself traveling backward through time, with each new stop providing clues to a mysterious family secret. To add to the intrigue, Abbi discovers she’s not the only time traveler. Will, a handsome white farm boy from 1927, is on his own journey forward through time, and Abbi gradually realizes that Will is not only linked to her family’s past, but also holds the key to her heart—past, present, and future. Though this may provide a quick fix for fans of time-travel romance, the novel fails to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. While Abbi is a likable-enough protagonist, the story meanders, and the dialogue often feels stilted. However, the greatest disappointment is that a potentially delicious romance between Abbi and Will fails to gain any traction for the first two-thirds of the novel.

Without sparks to sustain it, the story fizzles. (Science fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63079-070-7

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Switch/Capstone

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Fans of the series who managed to enjoy volumes four and five will be pleased to find more of the same

THE DRAGONS OF WINTER

From the Imaginarium Geographica series , Vol. 6

The Caretakers fight the mind-controlling Echthroi through a tangle of timelines.

This penultimate volume in the Imaginarium Geographica series features such a massive ensemble of dead white men that it's difficult to follow their storylines. Don Quixote, Aristophanes and a badger quest for magic armor. Charles Williams, original characters Rose and Edmund, H.G. Wells, Richard Burton and a Clash of the Titans–style mechanical owl travel in time. J.R.R. Tolkien and Jules Verne meet a secret society so packed with dead authors that six William Blake clones ("We call them Blake's Seven") fit right in. A Chinese librarian speaking pidgin English betrays the questers, Medea meets Gilgamesh, and triple agents abound. A goblin market is peopled with characters from The Last Unicorn who make jokes from Blazing Saddles; Nathaniel Hawthorne paraphrases the 1988 cult classic They Live; a future Caretaker quotes Darth Vader. "Jules Verne show[s] goats descended from the herds of Genghis Khan in a county fair in an Indian nation in America … " Confused yet? If not, perhaps you'll be able to make sense of a resolution that relies on pasts that never were and futures that might-have-been.

Fans of the series who managed to enjoy volumes four and five will be pleased to find more of the same . (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1223-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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