An exciting, entertaining series companion.



From the Ravenspire series , Vol. 3

A prince replaced by a double must reclaim his identity.

The crown prince of Akram, Javan Samad Najafai of the house of Kadar, has spent the past 10 years at Milisatria Academy fulfilling his mother’s dying wish. In his absence, a rebellious faction of aristocrats is slowly poisoning the king, and they plan on taking advantage of his addled state by replacing Javan with Rahim, the illegitimate son of the king’s cousin. Javan thwarts the attempts on his life only to have Rahim’s father identify Rahim as the true prince. Javan narrowly escapes execution but is sentenced to the Maqbara, a prison where prisoners are forced into gladiatorial combat against all manners of creatures and monsters for the viewing and gambling pleasure of the aristocracy. Pious, honorable Javan is horrified by this miscarriage of justice and by what’s happened to his kingdom. He sets out to win the tournament to gain an audience with the king and prove his identity. He gains a reluctant ally, then friend, in the warden’s slave, a pale-skinned girl with a secret. As they struggle for their respective freedoms, their evolution from friends to more is romantic and compelling. The action scenes are inventive, as are narrative moments from Rahim’s perspective. In a change from previous Ravenspire settings, Akram is Arab-coded (a sensitivity reader is thanked in the acknowledgements), but there are unobtrusive references to the other books.

An exciting, entertaining series companion. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265298-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.


Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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