SEVEN ENDLESS FORESTS

This stand-alone companion to Tucholke’s The Boneless Mercies (2018) reimagines the legend of King Arthur—with a twist.

Eighteen-year-old narrator Torvi and her 14-year-old sister, Morgunn, are the only survivors of the devastating plague that swept through their steading. Torvi especially aches for her mother and Viggo, the shepherd who captured her heart. The arrival of a druid named Gyda shatters their quiet existence: She claims to be on a quest for a magical sword and that Uther, the fearsome wolf-queen of the feral wolf-priests, can lead her to it. The sisters jump at the chance to join her. Torvi’s mother always told her that she was too softhearted and not destined for greatness, but Viggo insisted that she smelled of “dark forests, of gloomy caves, of exotic spices, of danger, of battle, of sacrifice, of hard-won victory.” When Morgunn is kidnapped by Uther and her pack, Torvi vows to rescue her. Joined by a band of wandering, knife-wielding artisans, they set out for the long journey, picking up new quests and allies along the way. Tucholke delivers exquisite worldbuilding and imaginative characters, and Torvi’s tale is packed with peril and no small amount of sacrifice—even a touch of romance. Her story also speaks to the joy found in spending time with loyal friends as well as the power and magic of storytelling. Readers won’t want this one to end. All characters seem to be white.

Simply stunning. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30709-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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