A highly inventive and gripping installment of an impressive fantasy saga.

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The two most powerful people in a world called Kinderra prepare their final moves against each other in this third volume of a YA fantasy series.

Trine Mirana Pinal has only lived “16 summers,” but the fate of Kinderra is in her hands. She’s just learned shocking news about her mentor in the art of “the Aspects”—the great powers she wields. Trine Tetric Garis is the “Dark Trine.” (Trines have three Aspects, a rare phenomenon.) Garis plans to take over Kinderra using the “Power from Without,” a magic based on subjugation and death. As Mirana sets out from Rün-Taran, she’s determined to reach the “mountain-locked learning hall” of Caladazh. There, she must prevent Garis from retrieving the final passage of a journal kept by her formidable ancestor Jasal Pinal. The passage reveals how to weaponize Jasal’s Keep, the stronghold from which the warrior turned back Ilrik the Black’s armies. Among the  treasured belongings of Jasal that are in her possession, Mirana finds his diamond amulet, through which she’ll focus her Trine skills in “Healing,” “Defending,” and “Seeing.” Her journey becomes more complex when she reluctantly teams up with Sido Rendel, Garis’ potential heir to power. Sido doesn’t want Garis to rule Kinderra either, because, as he tells Mirana, “We both believed he would show us how to be something more than what our destiny called us to be. Instead, he lied to us both.” While traveling with Sido, Mirana learns that he’s a man with a Codex. Using her Healing Aspect on his festering wound brings them closer together, offering her a chance at love after rejecting Teague Beltran, her “Unaspected” best friend, for his own safety. Despite her commitment to personal sacrifice, Mirana will learn that the Dark Trine’s cruelty has no limits.

Donnelly’s latest installment pushes her meticulously crafted narrative to a dramatic peak. The Trine novels’ depiction of good versus evil—and the compromises made for the sake of each—is a heartfelt, streamlined alternative to the one found in the unwieldy Star Wars franchise. When Teague, who stands no chance of surviving a confrontation with Garis, says, “Mirana, I swear to you, I will find you, and I will never leave you again,” the third act’s romantic stakes rocket upward. Far from perfunctory, the love triangle that develops relies on worldbuilding nuances. As Mirana falls for Sido, who’s a Seer, it’s because he’s offered her “a place from which to begin to tame my own monsters.” Later, Mirana’s refusal to leave her horse, Ashtar, behind in battle hints at an expansion of the Aspects that changes a Trine’s core potential. The action sequences, often portraying psychic warfare, are striking (Garis’ “mind attempted to breach her protections...the diamond she gripped now hot against her palm”). While not everyone dear to Mirana survives the final battle, Donnelly gives her cast a warm sendoff that validates her hero’s optimism. After one character ends his journey with the words “I’m a bad man who occasionally does good things....But maybe I might become good....Someday,” fans will be eager to see what unfolds in subsequent volumes. The author’s skill with revelatory character arcs and tightly woven suspense sets this saga apart from countless other series featuring fantasy worlds that draw on similar inspirations.

A highly inventive and gripping installment of an impressive fantasy saga.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73505-188-8

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Kibbe Creative Media, LLC

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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