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WINDS OF WAR

From the Heirs of Tenebris Trilogy series , Vol. 3

A rousing and gratifying sendoff to a consistently engrossing fantasy series.

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A fiendish sorceress wages war against a magic-wielding teen in this conclusion to Shaffery’s YA fantasy trilogy.

The sorceress Dinora has been around for more than six centuries, stealing magic and trapping souls in the fantastical realm of Tenebris. She’s long held a thirst for revenge against this land, and she unleashes an army of conjured stone creatures upon it. The various inhabitants of Tenebris, human and otherwise, unite to battle Dinora’s army, including a teenage girl named Nyla. The sorceress had previously targeted Nyla because the girl inherited the magic of a Mage—Dinora’s nemesis from long ago. While Nyla and others battle the seemingly endless waves of stone creatures, Xander, Nyla’s love, watches the action unfold in a crystal ball. His archery skills can’t do much against enemies of solid rock, but he finds a way to help: He turns to Cedric, Dinora’s captive, centuries-old son,who surely knows how to take out his powerful mother. Shaffery kickstarts this tale with action; Tenebris quickly comes under attack, igniting exhilarating scenes of combat. Striking descriptions highlight the formidable series hero Nyla on the battlefield as she makes her way through the monsters: “Writhing and licking, the tongues of her lilac-colored magic leapt at the creatures… Chips of their jagged stone fell to the ground below like teeth.” The narrative has its share of slower moments as the cast comes to terms with past events that are integral to the series. The author has shrewdly maintained a consummate simplicity across all three installments, focusing on a memorable small-scale country and a handful of standout characters. This installment’s later chapters deliver a worthy conclusion while providing series regulars Nyla, Xander, and their catlike, telepathic friend, Shamira, with finales they deserve.

A rousing and gratifying sendoff to a consistently engrossing fantasy series.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9798986173269

Page Count: 398

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2023

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POWERLESS

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

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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