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SAINT-SEDUCING GOLD

From the Forge & Fracture Saga series , Vol. 2

A shining, expansive sequel.

Seventeen-year-old Joan Sands faces off in new fights with the Fae in this sequel to 2023’s That Self-Same Metal.

Joan’s godfather, Baba Ben, is still locked away in the Tower of London, so it’s Joan’s job as one blessed by the Orisha Ogun to protect their people with her power to manipulate metals. Fae creatures that feast on the bones and blood of humans are growing bolder and stronger now that the Pact forged to keep them in their own realm has been broken. Since iron is the only defense against Fae folks, Joan’s gift is critical in the fight against them. But Titanea, queen of the Fae, has risen from the ashes of an explosion that killed England’s real queen, Anne, and she now sits on the throne, having assumed Anne’s identity. Titanea keeps Joan close by, appointing her as one of her ladies-in-waiting, which interrupts the Sands’ plot to restore the Pact. When more tragedy strikes, Joan, her family, and her friends are forced to engage in open warfare with the Fae. The gory outcome is a feast for the senses. Williams’ narrative steadily focuses on the journey of a Black girl in 17th-century England who’s finding her place in an upturned world, and she masterfully emphasizes family bonds and community care as critical to the allies’ small but mighty collective. As various characters continue to explore queerness and polyamory, consent and honesty show up beautifully.

A shining, expansive sequel. (map, dramatis personae, historical notes, cultural note) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9781419758669

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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