They can still write ’em like they used to; hurrah! (Fantasy. 12-18)

THE ACCIDENTAL HIGHWAYMAN

BEING THE TALE OF KIT BRISTOL, HIS HORSE MIDNIGHT, A MYSTERIOUS PRINCESS, AND SUNDRY MAGICAL PERSONS BESIDES

Spells, wishes and fantastical creatures aside, this rollicking yarn owes more to R.L. Stevenson than J.K. Rowling.     

While the aging George II rules Britain, young Kit Bristol enjoys respectability as a gentleman’s servant, a step up from his past as a wandering circus trick-rider—until his mortally wounded master reveals himself as a notorious highwayman and bequeaths to Kit his magnificent horse, his golden sword, the ferocious enmity of the law and a mysterious mission to kidnap a runaway Faerie princess. Soon, Kit (along with a mad impresario, two fair damsels, the horse Midnight, the baboon Fred, and a brace of wee glowing feyín) is up to his ears in intrigue, disguises and daring escapes, pursued by the armies of two kings, a foul duchess and “[g]oblings and trolls and whatnot.” Kit’s wry voice provides a fine pastiche of old-fashioned tale-telling, slightly hampered by the sprinkling of didactic footnotes but enlivened by breakneck pacing, colorful similes and a sly wit aimed at modern sensibilities. While the lovely Princess Morgana, alas, does little but look pretty, act feisty and need rescuing, the rest of the characters are delightfully over-the-top, and Kit himself is as brave, clever and good-natured an orphan lad as ever buckled a swash. The promise of more adventures to come provides happily-ever-after enough.

They can still write ’em like they used to; hurrah! (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3549-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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