Underdeveloped characters, a dull plot with high page count and hollow moralizing make for very little to recommend.

WITCH WORLD

Jessica Ralle expected her graduation trip to Las Vegas to go smoothly—a little bit of drinking, some entertainment and a smidge of gambling before going off to UCLA—but….

The plan derails when she meets Russ, a dangerous man who shows her the arts of blackjack and of a mysterious new card game, 22. After blacking out when she is locked in a freezer, Jessie wakes up in the morgue and discovers she is in a different world, one in which she has special abilities built into her genetic sequence. When Jessie learns a sinister organization has kidnapped the daughter she bore in the alternate world, she embarks on a mission of vengeance to recover her child. Pike’s knack for melodrama is in evidence, but the worldbuilding never takes off here. Jessica adapts to her dual nature much too easily and adjusts to her role as mother with little disconnect. The main villain, a holdover from the Roman Empire, is laughably evil, and readers will find her Achilles’ heel to be utterly banal.

Underdeveloped characters, a dull plot with high page count and hollow moralizing make for very little to recommend. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3028-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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