Frothy romance with dashes of intrigue and magic.

THE BLOOD SPELL

From the Ravenspire series , Vol. 4

An unlikely duo tackles power plays both political and magical.

Alchemist Blue hides her magic (illegal since Balavata suffered a blood wraith) and devotes herself to discovering how to turn lead into gold to help her city’s impoverished orphan population. Although good friends with the princess, Nessa (who cannot speak and communicates with sign language), Blue can’t stand Nessa’s rakish brother, Kellan; the feeling’s mutual, as Kellan regards her as a killjoy. Crown Prince Kellan has only weeks to select a bride from among the nine head families before his 19th birthday. Dinah Chauveau offers an occasional third viewpoint: well-positioned to match her daughter with the prince only to find her schemes crumbling with her husband’s murder as his gambling debts bring her family to the verge of ruin. After Blue’s father is murdered, Dinah sweeps in with shady paperwork to claim Blue and all of her possessions, hoping to use her alchemy to save her standing. Blue finds surprising solace from Kellan as she comes to understand how high the stakes are for his outwardly frivolous political gamesmanship; the expected romance is slow burning and satisfying, with some fun fairy-tale twists as the danger crescendos. Despite certain predictable plot points, the charming leads carry the day. Most characters have varying shades of brown skin, with occasional white people, and race isn’t given weight.

Frothy romance with dashes of intrigue and magic. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-265301-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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