Next book


From the Heirs of Tenebris series , Vol. 1

A shrewd, absorbing fantasy showcasing extraordinary characters worth rooting for.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A teenager harboring potential magical powers vows to confront the red-eyed stranger who’s been haunting her in this debut YA novel.

Nyla’s unusual silver hair and purple eyes are indicative of someone with magical abilities. But she has none, her hair and eyes having changed colors after a fatal fire took her family two years ago. In fact, her home country of Tenebris somehow lost most of its magic centuries before. But there is a legendary waterfall that reputedly grants desires, and Nyla braves the treacherous Shadow Forest to find it and its good fortune. Along the way, she meets Xander, a fellow teen without a family. Their run-in with a hideous ogre in the forest—and its apparent, inexplicable death—leads both teens to suspect that Nyla has magical powers that she’s unaware of. Moreover, a man with scarlet-colored eyes and a crystal ball seizes her lucid dream-visions and seems intent on killing her. Answers regarding her magic’s source and this enigmatic villain may lie on the other side of Tenebris—in a creepy, abandoned manor from Nyla’s childhood. Shaffery wisely zeroes in on the sublime cast in this fantasy series opener. While individual backstories and the sinister presence targeting Nyla gradually come to light, the growing relationships truly drive the engrossing story. Nyla and Xander display genial natures that will quickly earn readers’ sympathies. Even when they annoy each other or occasionally fight, the two remain warmhearted, with Xander “just maybe a bit overconcerned” with Nyla’s well-being. They later team up with a supernatural ally whom they don’t immediately trust and spot other fantastical beings as well, including a fire-spitting “nocturnal creature” with “charcoal eyes” called a pyrosa. Though the memorable ending leaves paths for the sequel, this introductory tale illuminates much of the unraveling mystery and skillfully explores a fair amount of Tenebris’ relatively compact landscape.

A shrewd, absorbing fantasy showcasing extraordinary characters worth rooting for.

Pub Date: June 3, 2022

ISBN: 9798986173207

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2022

Next book


From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

Next book


Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024


Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

Close Quickview