After their previous adventure in the past (The Mirror of Fire and Dreaming, 2005), Anand and Nisha are thrust into the future in this satisfying trilogy closer. A malevolent force has stolen the sacred conch, and bereft of its protection, Anand’s Himalayan valley home has vanished into magical purgatory. Racing off in hope of rescue, Anand and Nisha find themselves imprisoned in a dismal dystopia. The residents of Coal live in brutal poverty and need masks to breathe their city’s fetid air. Only Coal’s scientists live in luxury, fed and served by enslaved, mute prisoners. Their instinct tells them to distrust the cold scientist Dr. S. and put their faith in the city’s outlawed magicians-in-hiding. Nothing in Coal is straightforward, however: Dr. S.’s harshly rational exterior hides the frightened little girl she once was. The teenagers must race against time to rescue the conch in a world where science is at war with magic and distrust rules the day. By reminding the many villains of the joys of love and fellowship, they just might succeed. Enjoyably sappy. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59643-153-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the...


Vande Velde again traps teenagers inside an authentically depicted arcade game—but here she works twists into the premise that are both amusing and crank up the danger.

As in User Unfriendly (1991) and Heir Apparent (2002), the game, called “The Land of Golden Butterflies,” is manufactured by the shadowy Rasmussem Corp. and is fully immersive, fed directly into the brain through electrodes. Into this game 14-year-old Grace Pizzelli’s big sister Emily has gone; moreover, she has refused to come out and altered the code so she can’t be forcibly ejected. As sessions that run longer than a few hours cause brain damage and death, the corporation desperately turns to Grace to follow Emily in and persuade her to leave. Reluctantly agreeing, Grace discovers to her disgust that, rather than offering the usual heroic-fantasy or science-fiction setting, this digital world has been colored in pinks and lavenders. It is stocked with (supposedly) benign magical creatures and hunky male servitors—in general, it seems designed to cater to 10-year-old would-be princesses. The idyll has gone sour, though, because thanks to Emily’s fiddling, not only have the wish-granting sprites turned nasty, but the game’s governing Artificial Intelligence has changed the Rules—disabling the “Quit” function and forcing both Grace and her already-failing sister to embark on a seemingly hopeless quest with their real lives at stake.

Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the digital domain. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-73850-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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A fully imagined world, a wider cast of engaging characters, and a satisfying resolution all help this sequel add up to an...


From the Changelings series , Vol. 2

Izzy and her friends must once again band together to overcome an evil plan.

Despite the revelation that she is a fairy—a changeling—Izzy decided to return home to her human family at the end of series opener The Changelings (2016). At summer camp with her human, white younger sister, Henrietta, known as Hen, Izzy still misses the magic of the Faerie world and the friends she made there. Summoned to assist in fighting a new danger, Izzy struggles to recapture her magical abilities while fighting familiar feelings of self-doubt. Hen, initially left behind, finds her way to Faerie to help and winds up playing a vital role. Soontornvat’s story unfolds smoothly, but readers unfamiliar with the first volume may struggle somewhat to follow the action. Intriguing new elements—most notably the underwater Fen Whelps who reveal a crucial detail to the two sisters—add interest. As in the first book, it’s an individual who threatens destruction and cooperation that carries the day. A strong connection to nature, the importance of recognizing and using one’s own talents for the greater good, and the importance of family connections, however they are forged, are elements that will enhance the appeal for thoughtful fantasy readers.

A fully imagined world, a wider cast of engaging characters, and a satisfying resolution all help this sequel add up to an enjoyable, if not stand-alone, read. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3421-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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