What a tedious mess. Fans will, of course, adore it.

CHOSEN AT NIGHTFALL

From the Shadow Falls series , Vol. 5

The Shadow Falls series concludes, but not before the protagonist’s constant confusion over her ex-boyfriends is drawn out as long as the author can manage to stretch it.

Kylie, who could teach a graduate seminar in indecisiveness to Hamlet, has taken the length of several books to discover just what type of supernatural being she is. She spends this one in ceaseless internal debate over her main heartthrob, the werewolf Lucas. In Whispers at Moonrise (2012), Lucas went through a sham engagement ceremony with another girl, and Kylie just won’t forgive him even though she knows he’s her soul mate. Meanwhile, Derek still loves her, so she’ll have to deal with her feelings for him, too. Hunter takes short breaks from the emotional turmoil to deliver a contrived, sitcom-worthy episode about pregnancy tests. She really hits the mark with a nifty, blood-drenched, sword-wielding, severed-head–carrying girl ghost who wants Kylie to kill someone. But alas, that imaginative plotline takes up only about one-tenth of the book, finally resolved in an exciting fight scene that’s quickly dispensed with so readers can get back to the important content: boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. The author delivers it all with the required romance-writing conventions of sentence fragments, adjectival adverbs and italics, although it is still of a higher quality than much in the romance genre.

What a tedious mess. Fans will, of course, adore it. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-01289-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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