By no means a stand-alone but—like the entire saga—essential for any epic-fantasy collection and catnip for lovers of the...

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SHADOWCASTER

From the Shattered Realms series , Vol. 2

The storyline shifts to the reluctant princess-heir of the Fells in this second chronicle of the next generation of wizards and warfare in the Seven Realms.

Alyssa ana’Raisa is not yet 16 but already a seasoned officer in the endless war against Arden. Her unexpected victories include capturing one Capt. Halston Matelon, a potentially useful pawn, and the magemarked street busker Breon, roped into an assassination plot that may lead back to the latest sinister threat to the Realms. Readers eager for updates on Ash and Jenna (Flamecaster, 2016) may be frustrated by the scant tidbits here, but they’ll be more than satisfied with the author’s distinctive, immersive worldbuilding, dense plotting, and complex characterization. Lyss and Hal are both blunt, honorable, war-weary soldiers whose mutual recognition of a kindred soul across battle lines lends conviction to their star-crossed romance even as Breon’s charming braggadocio and painful naiveté supply an appealing foil. While both Hal and Breon are white, Lyss’ dark skin and wheaten hair indicate her mixed ancestry; the many supporting characters represent “a quilt of faces of all colors, all ages, and every social class.” Despite the absence of any overarching narrative arc, the hurtling pace keeps the pages turning through heated battles and embraces, daring plots and escapes, right up to the abrupt cliffhanger ending.

By no means a stand-alone but—like the entire saga—essential for any epic-fantasy collection and catnip for lovers of the genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238097-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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