A fast-paced and engrossing read for anyone weary of the same old hackneyed storylines

SERPENTINE

From the Kingdom of Xia series , Vol. 1

Pon returns to Xia, a realm inspired by Chinese folklore and introduced in Silver Phoenix (2009), for the first in a duology.

Abandoned at birth, Skybright feels lucky to be handmaid to the wealthy, vivacious Zhen Ni, who for 16 years has treated her more as beloved sister than servant. Yet Sky, already bitter with jealousy over her mistress’s new companion and passionately enamored of the charming monk-in-training Kai Sen, hides a dreadful secret: at night, she transforms into a demon, half human, half monstrous crimson serpent. As Sky learns more about her extraordinary origins from the enigmatic immortal Stone, she realizes that the breach between the underworld and the land of the living endangers everything she holds dear. The economical narrative conjures an entire world, drenched in color and texture and scent, rich in evocative mythology and heady action, and filled with vivid characters. Skybright makes a refreshing heroine, both fiercely loyal and eminently practical, ready to exploit her supernatural powers while insisting on her inherent humanity. Her steamy, nigh-instantaneous (and eventually consummated) romance with Kai Sen still appears intimate and tender, even as her unwilling attraction to Stone suggests a classic love triangle. But the dominant theme remains her deep friendship with Zhen Ni, with all its complications of class, amorous entanglements, and imminent demon invasion.

A fast-paced and engrossing read for anyone weary of the same old hackneyed storylines . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942664-33-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Month9Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Strange and strangely compelling, this is one of those books that needs the right reader—who will eat it up.

FAT & BONES

AND OTHER STORIES

Short, peculiar, inexplicable: This won’t be for everyone.

When Bald the farmer dies, his miserable son, Bones, is determined to get rid of Fat the fairy, who lives on the farm, once and for all. Their rivalry sets off a series of interconnected tales, each one dark and surreal and imbued with a kind of meaning, although the meaning is not always immediately apparent—and there’s little to no morality on display, although there are glimmers of a very dark sense of absurdity. While there are occasional moments of kindness (a vindictive, nearly footless pig tries to ensure the prettiest pig’s trotter ends up in a stew but sacrifices herself instead at the last moment; a misfit spider finds love), most of the tales are dark indeed. A lovelorn mouse sets up his rival for defeat by cat; a tulip becomes an assassin of smaller flowers; and Fat and Bones both come to nasty ends. The tales link together across the space of a single day, at the end of which peace reigns on the farm. Tonally these read a bit like folk or fairy tales, but the edges are sharp; the dark, ink-blotted design and pen-and-ink art make this an object to admire as well as read.

Strange and strangely compelling, this is one of those books that needs the right reader—who will eat it up. (Short stories. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0825-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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THEY SAW THE FUTURE

ORACLES, PSYCHICS, SCIENTISTS, GREAT THINKERS, AND PRETTY GOOD GUESSERS

In a now familiar format, Krull (Lives of the Artist, 1995, etc.) introduces prognosticators from Nostradamus and Hildegard of Bingen to Jules Verne, Nicholas Black Elk, Jeane Dixon, Marshall McLuhan, and the anonymous Mayan creators of a calendar that shows a major cataclysm coming on December 21, 2012. Along with short lists of hits and misses, every chapter combines biographical tidbits, analyses, and cultural snapshots, illuminating both the prophets’ characters and their eras. Brooker’s tableaux incorporate paint, clipped photographs, and bits of cloth and leather for portraits that are less satiric than the caricatures Kathryn Hewitt created for the previous books in the series. On whether her subjects could see the future, the author has it both ways, suggesting “a gift, a talent, a special genius beyond rational explanation,” nourished by tremendous curiosity, uncommon listening and research skills, and the courage to go out on a limb. (further reading, index) (Biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81295-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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