A sequel with even less magic—literal and figurative—than its predecessor.

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THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE

From the Windy City Magic series , Vol. 2

The story of Amber Sand, matchmaker extraordinaire, continues after The Best Kind of Magic (2017).

There’s a lot going on in Amber’s life: her part-time jobs at a bakery, a restaurant for supernatural creatures, and her mother’s magic shop, on top of her senior course load and working on her application to the Chicago Culinary Institute, and making time for her friends Amani Sharma and Kim Li and boyfriend, Charlie Blitzman. But things get more complicated when her nemesis, Ivy Chamberlain, comes to Amber for help in persuading Ivy’s sister, Iris, not to become a mermaid in order to marry her girlfriend. It seems Iris has gone for help to Victoria, an evil witch who used to be Amber’s mother’s best friend. Worst of all, Amber keeps getting glimpses of Charlie’s true love—and it’s Kim. Will she give in to fate? Will her mother defeat Victoria? Will she get through this after blowing up all of her relationships? Most of these multiple storylines find shallow and lackluster conclusions. Both Sand women suffer from immaturity—Amber in digging into her mother’s past and Amber’s mother with her stubborn secrecy. Besides her immaturity, Amber’s misanthropic tendencies make her moments of altruism feel forced. Racial and ethnic diversity is cued with naming conventions; the book otherwise largely adheres to the white default.

A sequel with even less magic—literal and figurative—than its predecessor. (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-5273-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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