MY IMAGINARY MARY

From the Lady Janies series

Energetic, clever, and absorbing.

Ada Lovelace and Mary Godwin—better known today as Mary Shelley—combine forces to create a living automaton: a real boy.

It’s the year “18—mumble mumble,” the timeline smooshed together into an imagined year when both girls are in their late teens. Ada, the abandoned daughter of famous poet Lord Byron, is a mathematical genius who creates delicate clockwork automatons. Mary’s the daughter of the late, famed early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. She’s half in love with poet Percy Shelley, her father’s mentee, and wonders if she’ll ever succeed at writing. The girls become friends when their fae godmother arrives through a hidden door in the back of Mary’s wardrobe to school them both on powers they may have inherited. Lo and behold, with Mary’s help, Ada’s automaton becomes a living—and lovely—boy named Pan. When villains want something from the girls, they take off, along with Pan and Mary’s two half sisters, on a romp through Europe. The trio of authors responsible for this entertaining smashup series get better with every book they write. Readers don’t have to know the characters’ real-life backstories to enjoy this story; for those who do, the parallels are intriguing. The novel effortlessly and entertainingly combines “Cinderella,” Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pinocchio, and Hamilton, and the ending reminds readers not to underestimate quiet women.

Energetic, clever, and absorbing. (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-293007-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

A TEMPEST OF TEA

From the Blood and Tea series , Vol. 1

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner.

Bestselling author Faizal returns to the universe of We Hunt the Flame (2019) with a stand-alone duology opener.

Orphaned Arthie, brown-skinned with mauve hair, has created a criminal empire out of sheer pluck despite being Ceylani in Ettenia, where laws favor white people. She pulled legendary pistol Calibore from a stone plinth (though the prophecy that doing so would make her the nation’s leader turned out to be a hoax). She’s also built Spindrift, a teahouse-cum-bloodhouse, where she gathers secrets from wealthy humans and vampires, amassing power and security. Now Arthie has her sights set on vengeance—and the Ram, Ettenia’s masked monarch. When she and Jin, her brother-by-choice (who’s cued East Asian), are drawn into a heist, they assemble a diverse crew of immigrants whose roles riff on genre archetypes. The lush prose pulses with feeling as revelations are dropped and the tension ratchets up, keeping the pages turning as the motley gang plans to infiltrate a vampire society, retrieve a stolen ledger, and double-cross one of the Ram’s guards (who might be planning to double-cross them). Their ultimate goal: taking down the colonizing Ettenians and the exploitative East Jeevant Company. It’s all very exciting right up to the action-packed finale, which promises more conspiracy and (hopefully) justice to come. This compelling read offers interesting commentary on our society while feeling entirely real within the context of its own worldbuilding.

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389406

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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