Fast-paced and plot-focused.

VEILED EXISTENCE

From the Legacy in Legend series , Vol. 2

After Thunderstone (2013), Jeni and Ice find themselves up against hostile supernatural forces again, this time from Celtic legend.

Jeni, a white teen, has tried to research her heritage and learn about her spiritual abilities, but her debilitating nightmares have caused her to put the project on hold. Jeni’s strange experience with a rock near an old church sends up all kinds of red flags for her boyfriend, Ojibwe apprentice medicine man Ice, and his mentor, Nik. Then Ice vanishes just before he’s supposed to join Jeni and her family on a riverboat cruise. With the help of her skeptic cousin Tyler and Dale, another spiritually gifted contact of Nik’s (though of Irish rather than Native heritage), Jeni investigates the church and stone, stumbling right into the old Irish story Deirdre of the Sorrows. But physically rescuing Ice won’t be enough to counteract the powerful geis that’s been laid on him. There’s plenty of Midwestern local flavor from the settings—including an encounter with real-life urban explorers—that give a realistic weight, especially needed as Jeni rapidly gains huge abilities in a hurry for the final showdown once her enemy’s identified (after a predictable twist). Pietron takes care to correct some of the flaws of the earlier book, giving Ice a specific tribal affiliation, though the authenticity of the book’s mythos is still suspect.

Fast-paced and plot-focused. (Paranormal suspense. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9916021-3-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribe

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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