Pack’s teen curators grow a bit wiser, and more lovable, in this latest volume.


Third Chronicles of Illumination


In the latest volume of Pack’s (Becoming Johanna, 2016, etc.) YA fantasy series, curators Johanna and Jackson try to stave off a Terrorian invasion of the interdimensional library system.

Books within the Library of Illumination come to life—literally. Eighteen-year-old Johanna Charette and her boyfriend, 17-year-old Jackson Roth, are co-curators of the library, which they recently learned is part of an interdimensional system of libraries connected through portals. One of the connected realms, Terroria, is home to the power-hungry Nero 51, who wants to storm the other realms—Romantica, Juvenilia, and Fantasia (Earth) among them—to destroy all the books and steal their knowledge. Thankfully, the overseers, who manage the libraries, have sealed the portals and trapped Nero 51 between realms. Unfortunately, the Terrorian is in contact with a shape-shifting Mysterian named Odyon, who covets the Book of Myrrdin (Merlin). If this weren’t trouble enough, Johanna and Jackson are continually working together in the library. Their relationship has grown fraught, and though Jackson wants to plan for their future together in college, his penchant for sarcasm eventually leads to a cooling-off period with Johanna. Meanwhile, the various realms prepare for a Terrorian attack. In this third volume of the series, Pack shows readers the various realms, all different from one another. Those on Juvenilia “live to age fifteen and are then reincarnated as three-year-olds,” while those on Adventura are hu*bots, beings who combine biological and technological components. We also learn about the Library of Origination on Lumina, where an oracular gemstone helps the overseers, as Master Ryden Simmdry puts it, “align…thoughts and remove distractions” so that the “way to resolve a particular problem soon becomes clear.” As Pack creatively animates the various realms, the relationship between her two protagonists maintains the novel’s bittersweet tone. Johanna and Jackson are beautifully believable, especially as they drift apart. Everything combusts in a cliffhanger finale.

Pack’s teen curators grow a bit wiser, and more lovable, in this latest volume.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Artiqua Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2016

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An atmospheric and creepy page-turner.


Seventeen-year-old Anna Cicconi finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she takes a summer nanny job in the swanky Hamptons enclave of Herron Hills.

Frick begins her story at the end. Well, sort of. August in the Hamptons signals the turning of the leaves and sees the grisly discovery of 19-year-old Zoe Spanos’ body. Zoe disappeared on New Year’s Eve, and Anna, who happens to strongly resemble her, has confessed to her murder. However, Martina Green, who runs the podcast Missing Zoe, doesn’t believe Anna did it and attempts to find out what really happened. Flash back to June: Hard-partying recent high school grad Anna sees her new job caring for Tom and Emilia Bellamy’s 8-year-old daughter as a fresh start. As one sun-drenched day melts into the next, Anna is drawn to Windemere, the neighboring Talbots’ looming, Gothic-style home, and to the brooding, mysterious Caden Talbot. But Anna can’t shake a feeling of déjà vu, and she’s having impossible memories that intertwine her life with Zoe’s. Frick easily juggles multiple narratives, and readers will enjoy connecting the dots of her cleverly plotted thriller inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. Anna and Zoe are white; the supporting cast includes biracial characters Martina (Latinx/white) and Caden (black/white). Caden discusses grappling with being raised by white adoptive parents, facing racialized suspicion as Zoe’s boyfriend, and feeling marginalized at Yale.

An atmospheric and creepy page-turner. (map) (Thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4970-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.


For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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