A bit overstuffed but fun nonetheless, with some genuine surprises in store. (Fantasy. 12-17)

THE LANTERN'S EMBER

Houck’s (Tiger's Dream, 2018, etc.) new adventure offers a fresh spin on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”…and a few more tales besides.

Jack, once mortal, is a lantern, conscripted into service by a devil 500 years ago, who watches over one of the crossroads leading from the human realm into the Otherworld. Now his soul resides in the pumpkin that is constantly by his side. He’s kept an eye on the village witch, Ember O’Dare, since she was a girl, because witches are very sought after by those in the Otherworld, which is powered by witchlight. When Ember, now 17, meets Jack, it’s instant sparks, and he’s desperate to keep her safe. When Ember is offered a trip to the Otherworld by the charming, and not quite trustworthy, vampire Deverell “Dev” Blackbourne, she jumps at the opportunity, but she may be in over her head, and Jack, with Ember’s friend Finney in tow, heads into the Otherworld to find her. What follows is a race through a world technologically light years ahead of the human realm, full of all manner of supernatural beings, skyships, and plenty of swashbuckling derring-do. A love triangle adds tension, but the real fun lies in spotting Houck’s inventive riffs on a ton of monster myths (and other stories) along the way.

A bit overstuffed but fun nonetheless, with some genuine surprises in store. (Fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55572-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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