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A lively and fantastical adventure through Arthurian legend and Depression-era Texas.

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In this YA fantasy debut, a teen learns that she is a changeling who must protect a magical, realm-spanning contraption from demonic forces.

Forced to spend a week with his grandmother in Austin, Texas, Perry breaks into her storage chest and uncovers an old book with a green cover. This volume tells of 13-year-old Lorenda “Maggie” Wells, who helps her mother run a hotel in Fort Richards, Texas, during the Depression. One day, a creepy woman arrives at the hotel, dressed in black and wearing sunglasses. She calls herself Vivienne but is also known as the Lady of the Lake (from Arthurian legend). She kidnaps Maggie and returns her to Avalon, revealing that the teen was switched at birth to live with human parents. Avalon is Vivienne’s realm, one of many “Otherworlds” connected by the Imaginaerium Engine—a fantabulous device hidden in the Fort Richards clocktower and threatened by primal forces of evil known as the Fomoire. At first, Maggie resolves to escape from Vivienne and her ethereal kin (the Tuatha Dé). But then the teen begins to manifest her own powers, including dream prophesy and an unpredictable affinity with water. When Vivienne is shot by a Fomoire agent, it falls to Maggie to return to Fort Richards with her teen Tuatha Dé relatives to safeguard the Imaginaerium Engine. Wayne, known for his short stories and plays, makes a smooth transition to the longer form, relating Maggie’s tale by way of an uncomplicated yet vivid, omniscient past-tense narrative. The dialogue rings true, reflecting both the era’s formal manners (Maggie addressing her mother as “Ma’am”) and, through the Tuatha Dé teens, a more relaxed, modern approach (“Wow, sorry about that. Didn’t mean to zap you”). In this series opener, Maggie is a relatable protagonist—proactive and determined yet conflicted in her reactions—and in depicting the normality of her human upbringing, the author captures a sense of place and time that contrasts effectively with her Tuatha Dé family’s otherworldliness. One qualm regarding the prose is that it doesn’t always successfully delineate moments of surprise or import (such as a railway bombing). Nonetheless, the narrative moves quickly and offers generous servings of novelty and excitement. Young readers will be carried along, eagerly anticipating further installments.

A lively and fantastical adventure through Arthurian legend and Depression-era Texas.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 9780984822942

Page Count: 454

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2023

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From the Warning series , Vol. 1

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale.

A reissue of the 2016 novel published as Consider.

Alexandra Lucas and her boyfriend, Dominick, are about to start their senior year of high school when 500 vertexes—each one a doorway-shaped “hole into the fabric of the universe”—appear across the world, accompanied by holographic messages communicating news of Earth’s impending doom. The only escape is a one-way trip through the portals to a parallel future Earth. As people leave through the vertexes and the extinction event draws nearer, the world becomes increasingly unfamiliar. A lot has changed in the past several years, including expectations of mental health depictions in young adult literature; Alex’s struggle with anxiety and reliance on Ativan, which she calls her “little white savior” while initially discounting therapy as an intervention, make for a trite after-school special–level treatment of a complex situation; a short stint of effective therapy does finally occur but is so limited in duration that it contributes to the oversimplification of the topic. Alex also has unresolved issues with her Gulf War veteran father (who possibly grapples with PTSD). The slow pace of the plot as it depicts a crumbling society, along with stilted writing and insubstantial secondary characterization, limits the appeal of such a small-scale, personal story. Characters are minimally described and largely racially ambiguous; Alex has golden skin and curly brown hair.

A glossy repackaging of a jejune tale. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-72826-839-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

A purple page turner.

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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