Centaurs, mermaids, and similar fantastic creatures populate the latest collection of short stories compiled by Coville. Ten noted fantasy authors take on a theme with a natural appeal to teens struggling with their own divided nature, both child and adult, yet neither. Many of the authors zero in on the dilemma of these “betwixt and between,” with mythical halfbreeds who despise their foreign natures. Nancy Springer portrays a modern-day adolescent gorgon shamed by her changing body, while the heroine of Jude Mandell’s “Princess Dragonblood” so loathes her fiery passions that she determines to slay her dragon sire. Other stories explore instead a restless yearning to escape humanity into the wholly other: Janilee Simner’s captured selkie, aching for the sea; Tim Waggoner’s Icarus-as-carnival-freak, tormented by his inability to fly; and, most poignant, Tamora Pierce’s exploration of an apple tree’s dilemma when accidentally transformed into a human. The most striking tales are also those loosely related to traditional models: Bruce Coville’s haunting tale of the scion of a family tainted by faerie blood, and his quest to restore his ancestor’s lost humanity; and Gregory Maguire’s stunning rumination the ontological plight of the Scarecrow of Oz before his rescue by Dorothy. Strikingly similar in their wistful, poetic, and introspective moods, each story is prefaced by an equally mysterious photo collage (which unfortunately partly obscures the text of Lawrence Schimel’s sharp-edged poem). A good choice for fantasy fans, or teachers looking to supplement a mythology unit. (Short stories. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-95944-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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