An often thrilling and nuanced fantasy novella.

BEATRICE AT BAY

From the The Beatrice McIlvaine Adventure series , Vol. 2

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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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