Coville is usually good for heady, high-spirited adventure—but he blows it here.

THE THIEF OF WORLDS

When the magical horn that keeps all of our planet’s winds in motion is stolen, young Hurricane finds himself leading the chase to fetch it back.

In a tale that suffers from both identity confusion (quest fantasy? Eco-parable? Ontological mishmash?) and a premise that really doesn’t hold water (not to mention air, earth, or fire), Coville sends his protagonist out of the formerly Windy City’s increasingly deadly fug and through a series of portals to a set of highly localized alternate worlds that are, respectively, rapidly drying out, getting colder, or becoming less solid. Instruments controlling each of the four elements, it turns out, have been stolen from their divine or semidivine keepers by Mokurra, an entity composed of the souls of billions of anguished victims of a mad strongman’s unspecified (but probably nuclear) holocaust, in order to create a deathless new Eden complete with a forbidden tree of knowledge. The author drags his readers through a repetitive plot to a thoroughly anticlimactic resolution keyed to the fruit of that aforementioned tree—leaving them to grope after any symbolism or even, for more analytical sorts, to puzzle over the logic of Mokurra’s actions. Additionally, the worldbuilding lacks depth and the characters are poorly fleshed out. A paucity of physical descriptions makes the ethnicity of human characters difficult to determine.

Coville is usually good for heady, high-spirited adventure—but he blows it here. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-39251-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more