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

NIMUE

FREEING MERLIN

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

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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