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NIMUE

FREEING MERLIN

This exuberant fantasy calls on readers to conceive of a loving, balanced world.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

An American teen discovers her connection to Celtic myth and Arthurian legend in this YA fantasy adventure, the third installment in the Legends of the Grail series.

Seventeen-year-old Nina Liber lives in Manhattan with her mother, Diana, an expert in Celtic mythology. Before their flight to Britain for the summer, Nina dreams of a woman in green who calls her a “Mage” and tells her, “remember who you are.” Diana’s husband, Felix, has been deceased two years, and she’s eager to see her twin brother, Blaise. Nina is skeptical about enjoying sights like Stonehenge and being away from her boyfriend, Owen Pelleas. Once in Hampstead, England, Nina befriends Daphne, her uncle’s occasional flame. Daphne recommends the girl visit Ganieda, a local healer named after Merlin’s sister, to gain peace of mind. Ganieda outlines the relationships between the mythical huntress Diana; her lover, the Roman god Bacchus; and their daughter, Nimue. When she hears of Nina’s dream, she echoes the woman in green by saying, “Mage, it’s time you remember who you are.” Later, a limo takes Nina to a country home called Imworth, where she meets Morgen, the woman from her dream. She tells Nina, “You were Nimue. Only you can find and awaken Merlin” and restore the balance between light and darkness on Earth. Sullivan might have written a fantasy in which her lead throws punches while hunting for relics. Instead, she’s more faithful to Merlin’s complex mythology than to the genre’s tropes. Readers will be reminded of the ways Romans used Christianity to subdue the Druids, who had their own belief system. And while Nimue and Merlin’s romance is intense—they kissed like “a tsunami crashing onto shore”—it’s just a portion of their lives, not the entirety. After seeing her previous incarnations, Nina comes to realize she’s “the power of the universe operating as a point in time and space” and that it might be possible to usher in Satya Yuga, the Golden Age, by reconnecting with the natural world. Lovely black-and-white illustrations by Crow duCray enliven the journey. A glossary is included.

This exuberant fantasy calls on readers to conceive of a loving, balanced world. (glossary)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947925-19-9

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Infinite Light Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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