A dark but graceful parable of temptation, pride, revenge and hope; ideal for classroom reading.

DARKWATER

A slim, elegant retelling of the classic Faustian fable, with an inspirational twist.

Victorian adolescent Sarah may be a menial drudge, but she never forgets that she is also the last of the arrogant aristocratic Trevelyans, now fallen into shameful penury. So she cannot refuse Lord Azrael, the current owner of her ancestral Darkwater Hall, when he offers proper work, real learning and even a chance to win back everything her family lost; all she has to risk is her soul. One hundred years later, Tom is another destitute and bullied teen, who would give anything to attend the elite school at Darkwater Hall—anything but the ghostly presence of his twin brother, Simon. When he meets a weird (but oddly mature) girl named Sarah, she warns him away from the new teacher, Azrael—who has just tempted Tom with the education he craves. While not as dense or subtle as her more recent work, this reissue of an early Fisher novel displays her spare lyrical prose and evocative sense of place. (This is its first U.S. publication.) The characters may be paper-thin and their motivations opaque, but they serve as effective players for a morality tale. Readers acquainted with Goethe, Milton or alchemical lore will be rewarded by a plethora of allusions both obvious and sly; but even those unfamiliar with the legendary source material will appreciate the layered symbolism and uplifting message.

A dark but graceful parable of temptation, pride, revenge and hope; ideal for classroom reading. (Fantasy. 11-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3818-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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