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

TRINE REVELATION

THE KINDERRA SAGA: BOOK 3

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

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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