Fans of Clare's grandiloquence will enjoy the torrid new cast of characters, positively aquiver with secret ardor and...

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LADY MIDNIGHT

From the Dark Artifices series , Vol. 1

By the Angel, it's a new series from the reigning queen of schmaltzy forbidden love against a backdrop of geysering green ichor.

Five years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire (2014), another generation of Shadowhunters confronts first love despite the sins of their fathers. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn are 17-year-old parabatai, platonically bonded warrior lifemates, sworn to each other since they were both orphaned at 12. Julian, responsible for his four younger siblings, became grave and adult before his time, while Emma grew reckless and obsessed with revenge. Now a series of occult murders has caught Emma's attention. The resulting chaos is trademark Clare, complete with longing looks, uncannily pretty boys, and snarky banter. No mere love triangles here; the circle of taboo ardor has six participants, all preternaturally lovely and extraordinary fighters, Shadowhunter and faerie both; though most are white and the primary characters straight, at least one is explicitly brown-skinned and two of the secondary members bisexual. It's not just lust and romance driving Emma and Julian; they're positively throbbing with stoically stifled emotions for siblings, their Mexican Nephilim allies, and the long-lost half-faerie Blackthorns. Though uneven, this series opener delivers what's promised: eyes like "doors to another world," "the ocean a mile down from the surface," "an oncoming storm over the ocean," or "the back of a silver spoon."

Fans of Clare's grandiloquence will enjoy the torrid new cast of characters, positively aquiver with secret ardor and murderous zeal . (Urban fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6835-1

Page Count: 768

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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