A promising first installment of a fantasy series about saving two worlds that needs to evolve to become fully realistic and...

TALIA

AND THE CAPTURE OF WRATH

From the The TALIA series series , Vol. 1

A debut middle-grade novel features magical lands, childhood adventure, guardian spirits, and the love of family.

This first volume in a projected fantasy series introduces readers to Wyatt Tobiah, the youngest of four brothers, after Gallard, Maelog, and Augustus. The boys live alone with their father, Dalton, after their mother died nine years ago. Though their father loves them all very much, his career in the energy sciences keeps him extremely busy, and the boys are often left to their own devices. They end up exploring an abandoned manor house, where a mysterious mirror turns out to be a portal to another land. Talia is described as a peaceful and perfect place, and moreover, after her death, the boys’ mother, Arianna, became queen of this realm. The boys travel to Talia and are amazed (“They saw only untainted beauty. The whole land of Talia was unbelievably lush, green, and pristine. There were flowing waterfalls, trees swaying in the wind, rolling hills, and flowers everywhere”). They are told that they must help Arianna save Talia—and ultimately their own world as well—from the malignant machinations of Lucempest. If the boys succeed, not only will they save two worlds, but they will also help their father with his life’s work. And that work, clean energy, is very much at the center of this story. Pollution and humanity’s role in spoiling the planet figure prominently in this wild, tangled tale, a point that is made strongly and often, frequently in a somewhat heavy-handed and didactic manner. At one point, Gallard even gets an essay test on the subject. The formality of the dialogue unfortunately enhances this flaw. Though the main protagonists are young boys, neither they nor anyone else in the tale ever use contractions, giving their speech a robotic, unrealistic air. That’s too bad, because the emotional core of the book resonates powerfully, both in the clear concern for the environment that shows in the bones of the work and in the deeply loving—if occasionally unbelievably idealized—Tobiah family.

A promising first installment of a fantasy series about saving two worlds that needs to evolve to become fully realistic and unreservedly magical.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4848-7328-1

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2016

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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