An ambitious series opener with promise.

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GIVE THE DARK MY LOVE

From the Give the Dark My Love series , Vol. 1

An unassuming country girl wages battle against a deadly plague.

Nedra Brysstain, an identical twin and the olive-skinned, black-haired daughter of a humble book peddler, leaves her quiet life in a rural village to attend a prestigious private school on scholarship. Under the tutelage of the enigmatic Master Ostrum, Nedra studies medicinal alchemy—a method of transferring patients’ pain through a crucible into another living creature (usually a rat). Though studious, Nedra falls for her classmate, handsome and affluent Greggori Astor. A plague known as the Wasting Death, thought to only affect the impoverished, is decimating the working poor and deepening an already precarious political rift. As the numbers of the dead increase, Nedra’s temperament shifts from empathetic to angry. When those close to her fall ill, Nedra must make a terrible choice, turning to necromancy in hopes of ending the plague and saving those she loves. Her transformation from a poor provincial girl to a fierce commander is transfixing; her choices may be fraught, but her risk-taking is thrilling. Although the central romance is hetero, secondary characters are queer. Revis’ (A World Without You, 2016, etc.) epic is a bit uneven, rambling at times but keeping pages flying at others. Pacing aside, expect this complex and atmospheric mix of fantasy, family secrets, and political intrigue to have strong crossover appeal. Characters are assumed white.

An ambitious series opener with promise. (Dark fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-595-14717-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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