From the Dark Shores series , Vol. 3

Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing.

The parallel storylines of Dark Shores (2019) and Dark Skies (2020) continue in this sequel that ties the two together.

Teriana, Marcus, Killian, and Lydia return as point-of-view characters in interwoven stories. Thematically uniting the protagonists is the idea of struggling against conflicting loyalties. Teriana and Marcus struggle with trust, both in terms of being able to trust each other, as they are technically enemies, and individually. Teriana is torn between protecting her people, held hostage by the Empire, or keeping the Empire from spreading into the West; Marcus longs for freedom from the Empire even as his loyalty to the men of his legion is challenged by his knowledge that there’s a traitor among them. Killian feels guilty over the choice he made between Lydia and Malahi, whose father is an inferior ruler, while Lydia’s struggles sneak up on her. The multiple storylines spread the characters to distant corners, presenting new worldbuilding opportunities. The balance between characters allows for a sense of time and travel while characters are on the move, with quicker check-ins preventing the pace from getting bogged down in between devastating revelations, deadly action, intrigue, and, of course, romance culminating in steamy scenes. The characters’ storylines resolve their immediate dilemmas while presenting new dangers for the next installment. Both the East and West feature casual diversity—skin tones (ranging from fair-skinned Lydia to black-skinned Teriana) are sometimes geographically linked but generally lack significance.

Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31779-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


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

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