Good characterization and well-described superpowers strengthen this series opener.


From the The Kinderra Saga series , Vol. 1

In this YA fantasy debut, a teenage girl has powers that could save or destroy her homeland as a centurieslong war reaches its climax.

In the land of Kinderra, in the province of Kin-Deren, 15-year-old Mirana Pinal is a magical Trine. Some of her people possess a single gift, called an Aspect, in Healing, Defending, or Seeing, but Mirana has all three powers. In two years, she’ll choose an amulet to focus her Aspects and aid the war against the Ken’nar, the ancient enemy of the Fal’kin people. Her father is Kaarl Pinal, Kinderra’s greatest warrior, and her mother is Desde, the governing prime in the capital. They don’t let on that they know that Mirana is a Trine, because public knowledge of that fact would pull the girl into war early. Ain Magne, a Dark Trine who leads the Ken’nar, aims to rule all of Kinderra. A prophecy from the Book of Kinderra describes a battle between Light and Dark Trines, and that “one of the Trines would come to destroy, the other to rebuild.” When Mirana has contradictory visions of soldiers and carnage at the Two Rivers Ford, she questions whether she’s the Light or Dark Trine of the prophecy. Can guidance from Trine Lord Tetric Garis make her future clearer? Donnelly vigorously describes his characters’ emotions and also explores the pitfalls of first love in this first book in a planned series. Mirana and 16-year-old Teague Beltran are fiercely loyal to each other; the boy, however, is has no powers, which the adults say dooms their romance. The fact that Mirana was born two months prematurely and is physically small adds complexity to her story of trading childhood for war. Donnelly clearly describes each Aspect as having numerous properties, for good or ill, as Ain Magne demonstrates by stripping his soldiers’ wills, creating battle-slaves who’ll fight until thoroughly butchered. Donnelly’s scenes of gore aren’t excessive, but when they appear, they’re effective. More impressive is the well-calibrated tension in the run-up to a single battle that begins in the minds of psychic characters long before the first sword falls. The finale promises a grand, devastating sequel.

Good characterization and well-described superpowers strengthen this series opener. (maps, glossary)

Pub Date: July 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73505-180-2

Page Count: 346

Publisher: Kibbe Creative Media, LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)


From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun...


When a cyclone deposits a 21st-century Kansas teen in Oz, she and readers discover there’ve been some changes made.

Dirt-poor “Salvation Amy” Gumm lives in a trailer park, effectively parenting her alcoholic mom (her dad ran off years ago), who seems to care more about her pet rat, Star, than her daughter. That doesn’t mean Amy is eager to be in Oz, particularly this Oz. Tyrannized by a megalomaniacal Dorothy and mined of its magic, it’s a dystopian distortion of the paradise Baum and MGM depicted. In short order, Amy breaks the wholly capricious laws and is thrown into a cell in the Emerald City with only Star for company. There, she’s visited first by the mysterious but sympathetic Pete and then by the witch Mombi, who breaks her out and takes her to the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked (among whom is the very hot Nox). Amy may well be the salvation of Oz—only someone from the Other Place can take Dorothy down. Paige has clearly had the time of her life with this reboot, taking a dystopian-romance template and laying it over Oz. Readers of Baum’s books will take special delight in seeing new twists on the old characters, and they will greet the surprise climactic turnabout with the smugness of insiders.

In the end, it’s just another violent dystopian series opener for all its yellow-brick veneer, but it’s a whole lot more fun than many of its ilk. (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-228067-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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