Much food for thought and discussion; but above all, a gripping read.

FREED BY FLAME AND STORM

A former slave must choose between vengeance, mercy, and justice in the conclusion of the epic fantasy duology that began with Bound by Blood and Sand (2016).

After much struggle and sacrifice, Jae mastered her elemental magic and ended the drought ravaging her desert realm. Now she and Elan, forswearing his once-exalted status, seek to destroy the Curse enslaving the Closest caste. But their newfound allies demand nothing less than overthrowing the rule of the Highest—including Elan’s beloved sister Erra. Allen’s return to this stark fantasy world tackles tough issues: power and privilege, order and freedom, trust and loyalty, the use and abuse of history. The clean, spare prose does not shy away from violence (including rape) intrinsic to the rigid social hierarchy, but it also portrays a culture without discrimination based on race (every character is variously “brown”), gender, or sexual orientation. Jae’s character—bitter, grieving, weary, striving for compassion, but ferociously committed to freedom—dominates the narrative. Elan remains generous, supportive, and sensitive, especially to Jae’s conflicted response to his romantic hopes. Honest and conscientious Erra may be the chief antagonist but is in no way a villain. Message never overwhelms story; as rising tensions, stakes, and casualties all hurtle toward a seemingly inevitable bloody catastrophe, only astonishing (and reciprocal) demonstrations of contrition and compromise permit a fragile but hopeful reconciliation to emerge.

Much food for thought and discussion; but above all, a gripping read. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93218-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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