A delicious drama of morally imperfect characters in a fantastical future world with timely, relevant politics.

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SHATTER

From the Glitter Duology series , Vol. 2

In this sci-fi duology closer, Queen Danica must embrace her role to find a way to break out of her gilded, 22nd-century cage.

Dani’s been back-stabbed by her crime-lord contact and returned to the palace, where she’s forced to wed the king and to continue dealing Glitter. The young white woman resolves to take down the men controlling her and to rescue her enslaved love, Saber (a green-eyed man of Mongolian descent). Playing along until she has the resources to make a true move, Dani must take down social rivals (such as King Justin’s bully of a mistress, Lady Cyn) and scheme against dissident factions within Sonoman-Versailles. The strategies required demand that she think of the consequences (and said consequences’ consequences) of her actions, which reinforces the guilt she feels about the casualties of her decisions—but they also reveal something she finds unpleasant about herself: she enjoys the power games, especially winning them. While pulling at threads to find weaknesses in her enemies, Dani and her friends uncover company secrets that trigger heavy themes about automation’s impact on economies and the concentration of wealth. Dani and Saber’s relationship is much better realized than in Glitter (2016), especially when they disagree or he’s criticizing her decisions (and helping her grow stronger—literally). The hard-fought ending tonally matches the story.

A delicious drama of morally imperfect characters in a fantastical future world with timely, relevant politics. (Romantic thriller/science fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-93374-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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