SWORD IN THE STARS

From the Once & Future series , Vol. 2

A band of heroes travels through time to put an end to King Arthur’s tragedy and save their future from corporate corruption.

In this second and final installment of a science-fiction reimagining of Arthurian legend, Ari, Merlin, and their friends crash into the past to steal a magic chalice from Camelot. They are guided by their quest to set the spirit of King Arthur free from his cycle of reincarnation and put a stop to Mercer, a murderous mega-corporation. However, their plans fall apart when they find themselves entangled in the legend—love triangle included—with Ari in the role of Lancelot and Gwen married to Arthur. Meanwhile, Merlin ages backward every time he uses magic. One false move could disrupt their whole timeline. Capetta (The Storm of Life, 2020, etc.) and McCarthy (Once & Future, 2019, etc.) have crafted a fast-paced, turbulent plotline with satisfying twists and luscious queer romance. Throughout they critique the whitewashing of medieval European history and, particularly, Arthurian retellings. Their cast of characters displays an intentional diversity of identities, including polyamorous. Encounters with Merlin’s past self and conflict with the Lady of the Lake explore the question of what makes someone a villain. Without rushing, the story resolves through a path of healing from the trauma of the past.

A heroic finale. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-44929-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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