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FOUL HEART HUNTSMAN

From the Foul Lady Fortune series , Vol. 2

An impressive, albeit stuffed, conclusion to the duology.

Several months after losing Orion to Lady Hong in Foul Lady Fortune (2022), Rosalind Lang sets out to save her kidnapped partner.

Since the confrontation at Warehouse 34, a heartbroken Rosalind has remained sequestered in her apartment to avoid reporters who want a glimpse of the Nationalist assassin Fortune. When the Nationalists refuse to rescue Orion and reveal plans to decommission Rosalind, she volunteers to tour the country, using her fame to boost Chinese morale in the face of Japanese military aggression. Rosalind’s true motive, however, is to lure out Lady Hong and Orion, and she sets herself as bait by claiming to possess Lady Hong’s final vial of a serum that creates invincible supersoldiers. As soon as the Communists discern Rosalind’s plan, they assign Celia Lang and Oliver Hong to follow Rosalind and capture Orion for their own cause. Meanwhile, Nationalist triple agent Silas Wu continues his single-minded pursuit of the enigmatic Communist sharpshooter Priest, unaware that Priest is actually Phoebe Hong, who is equally determined to maintain her facade as merely Orion and Oliver’s younger sister. Conflicting loyalties and long-held secrets put characters to the test in this packed but nonetheless fast-paced sequel, which is told by the main cast in third-person narration. With the stakes higher than ever, they must carefully choose whom to trust as they race against time to save their friends, family, and country.

An impressive, albeit stuffed, conclusion to the duology. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781665905619

Page Count: 560

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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