BEATRICE AT BAY

From the The Beatrice McIlvaine Adventure series , Vol. 2

An often thrilling and nuanced fantasy novella.

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In this sequel to Beatrice and the Basilisk (2012), a Texas teenager must protect herself and her family from dark forces who aim to take advantage of her magical abilities.

As a new high school freshman, Beatrice McIlvaine has relatively few worries—that is, until she slays a dragonlike creature that threatens the town of Seabrook, near the Gulf of Mexico. After saving her family and the townsfolk from a basilisk, her life temporarily returns to normal. But then a van full of mysterious teenagers appears, and their leader is fully aware of Beatrice’s ability to “dream things so strong they really happen.” The group reveals that they’re escaping from a brutal headmaster who kept them in a top-secret government-run academy (“a school that’s more like a prison”) for people with special talents. They demand Beatrice’s help, and after she refuses, she’s abducted by the headmaster himself, who threatens to harm Beatrice’s mother unless she helps him track down the runaway students. Beatrice manages to escape and join the ex-pupils on their quest to stop the headmaster’s evil plan to eliminate millions of people as part of a “Real life Thanos conspiracy”—a reference to real-life Marvel superhero films. In order to protect her new friends and the rest of the world, she must learn to fully unleash her own superpowers. Over the course of this sequel, father-daughter writing duo Bruce McCandless and Carson McCandless continue to make Beatrice a compelling lead character. As the plot unfolds, she brings her trademark snark to nearly every scene as she confronts the challenges of coming-of-age as well as a traumatic loss. Each short, accessible chapter drives readers along at a breakneck pace—that is, until the story’s rather abrupt conclusion, which will leave readers hungry for more. Indeed, one may wish that there were more opportunities to develop the runaway-student characters—Mila, Lester, Victor, Chantel, and Sanjay—but there may be more time to do so in a future installment.

An often thrilling and nuanced fantasy novella.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9983351-2-4

Page Count: 127

Publisher: Ninth Planet Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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

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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