THE LOST CITIES

A DRIFT HOUSE VOYAGE

Washed back nearly five-and-a-half centuries by a sudden tsunami in the usually placid Ocean of Time, pre-teen siblings Susan and Charles, first introduced in Drift House (2005), tackle a space/time storm (confusingly mislabeled a “time jetty”) that is leaving a trail of destruction stretching from the Twin Towers through Pompeii and Atlantis to ancient Babylon. Once again lacing his tale with inscrutable elements—including at least one (possibly more) strong-willed magical volume(s) and at least one (ditto) other-than-human time “Returner” who single-handedly fills out the cast with multiple appearances in various guises—Peck plunges the separated Susan and Charles into contrived encounters with Pre-Columbian residents of Greenland and North America, and then on to twin cataclysmic climaxes over modern Manhattan (for Susan) and beneath the Tower of Babel (for Charles), before a final happy reunion aboard their ship-like Quebec mansion. Floating thinly atop its opaque, anthropocentric metaphor (“The jetty is a manifestation of the eternal human desire to cheat time, to get to the end without going through the middle,” explains the Returner, with typical clarity), the sequel is as likely as its predecessor to leave readers at sea. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-58234-859-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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FABLEHAVEN

Witty repartee between the central characters, as well as the occasional well-done set piece, isn’t enough to hold this hefty debut together. Teenagers Seth and Kendra are dropped off by traveling parents at their grandfather’s isolated Connecticut estate, and soon discover why he’s so reluctant to have them—the place is a secret haven for magical creatures, both benign and decidedly otherwise. Those others are held in check by a complicated, unwritten and conveniently malleable Compact that is broken on Midsummer Eve, leaving everyone except Kendra captive in a hidden underground chamber with a newly released demon. Mull’s repeated use of the same device to prod the plot along comes off as more labored than comic: Over and over an adult issues a stern but vague warning; Seth ignores it; does some mischief and is sorry afterward. Sometimes Kendra joins in trying to head off her uncommonly dense brother. She comes into her own at the rousing climax, but that takes a long time to arrive; stick with Michael Buckley’s “Sisters Grimm” tales, which carry a similar premise in more amazing and amusing directions. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59038-581-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books.

IF YOU COME SOFTLY

In a meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climactic twist, Woodson (The House You Pass on the Way, 1997, etc.) offers an appealing pair of teenagers and plenty of intellectual grist, before ending her story with a senseless act of violence.

Jeremiah and Elisha bond from the moment they collide in the hall of their Manhattan prep school: He’s the only child of celebrity parents; she’s the youngest by ten years in a large family. Not only sharply sensitive to the reactions of those around them, Ellie and Miah also discover depths and complexities in their own intense feelings that connect clearly to their experiences, their social environment, and their own characters. In quiet conversations and encounters, Woodson perceptively explores varieties of love, trust, and friendship, as she develops well-articulated histories for both families. Suddenly Miah, forgetting his father’s warning never to be seen running in a white neighborhood, exuberantly dashes into a park and is shot down by police. The parting thought that, willy-nilly, time moves on will be a colder comfort for stunned readers than it evidently is for Ellie.

Miah’s melodramatic death overshadows a tale as rich in social and personal insight as any of Woodson’s previous books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23112-9

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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