An intriguing premise navigated by an affable heroine.

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SIREN SONG

BOOK 1 OF THE SIREN SONG TRILOGY (VOLUME 1)

In this trilogy opener, Blackwood pulls readers into the world of fallen angels through the eyes of Ariel, a spunky college freshman.

Blackwood starts the action almost immediately, barely introducing Ariel before she’s attacked by someone demanding she give him something called the Piece of Home. She’s knocked out during the encounter and wakes up in a hospital to find Michael, the most gorgeous guy ever, who takes a sudden interest in Ariel that sometimes verges on being bipolar (although that’s explained later). Ariel continues to be randomly attacked, which leads her to force some answers out of Michael. She finds out that she was adopted and that Michael is a Descendant, a half-human child of an Exile, or fallen angel. The angels that fell from heaven split into two groups—those still following Lucifer and those who realized their mistake. Ariel learns that her biological mother found the family’s Piece of Home and the angels believe Ariel now has it. The book’s fast-paced action is easy to follow while still being suspenseful, and despite some one-note duds, most of the characters feel natural and help add depth to Ariel’s adventure. Especially likable is Barnaby, the goblin she befriends in the Exiles' sanctuary, who watches her back mostly via text message. Smart, strong Ariel is fairly likable, although she has an annoying habit of making acronyms out of seemingly everything. Her supposed love of complicated vocabulary isn’t particularly flattering since she tends to use big words sparingly, like someone trying to impress friends with words he or she doesn’t quite understand. Michael, on the other hand, is a stiffer character, and some of his actions don’t seem to make much sense. For this volume, their budding romance stays in an awkward stage that doesn’t really affect the plot, although that’s sure to change as the story progresses. Some solid twists and turns make for a quick, enjoyable read that promises to grow deeper in the next chapters.

An intriguing premise navigated by an affable heroine.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479141364

Page Count: 264

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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