THE ANGEL’S COMMAND

Buccaneers and privateers, Carib hunters with poisoned darts, killer sharks, fiends, angels, and insane Captain Vanderdecken of the ghost ship Flying Dutchman converge in this rousing second installment in Jacques’s Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (2001). Ben and his faithful black Labrador, Ned, the only two to escape Captain Vanderdecken’s doomed ship in the first volume of the series, return to sail with buccaneer Captain Raphael Thuron, the terror of the Caribbean. The immortal duo, who communicate telepathically, continue the mission of the Angel of the Lord: “to do good and help others wherever the need arose.” After swashbuckling adventures in the Caribbean and the sinking of Thuron’s La Petite Marie, Ben and Ned find their mission: go to France, rescue the nephew of Comte Vicente Bregon of Veron, and help Father Mattieu, Captain Thuron’s younger brother. Rescuing Adamo means entering the clutches of evil Maguda Razan in her caves in the Spanish Pyrenees, and a new round of adventures begins. Joining Ben and Ned are Dominic, the legendary Facemaker of Sabada, and Karayna, gypsy singer and accomplished pickpocket. Labyrinthine passageways, hideous tortures, the cobra-like Maguda, avalanches, and the help of new friends make this a faster-paced read than its predecessor. Jacques’s formula works well again. Readers always know who the good and bad guys are, and vivid language, larger-than-life characters, and multiple story lines yield a sprawling, epic tale. Anyone, young and old, who enjoys being immersed in big, romantic adventures, will love this series. Young readers hooked by Jacques’s storytelling magic in Castways and the Redwall series are destined to be readers for life. May his readers be legion. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23999-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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