Following the complex threads of adventure as they come together through the multitude of intertwined journeys is a...

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BACKWARD GLASS

Intricate, lusciously creepy paranormal mystery.

It’s 1977, and 15-year-old Kenny Maxwell has just moved into the weird old Hollerith place. While helping his dad renovate the carriage house, Kenny finds a dead, mummified baby in the wall. And right there with the baby, he finds something even creepier: a list of years, names and birthdates starting in 1917 and going through 2017. Right there, labeled “1977,” it lists Kenny’s own name and birthdate. It’s not long before Kenny starts meeting the other names on the list, as the carriage house (now an inexpertly blocked-off crime scene) also hosts a magic mirror that empowers one kid in every generation with the ability to go backward or forward a decade. Luka is only 7 in Kenny’s time, but she is 16 when he meets her through the mirror, and when she brings him forward to her own time and shows him Nintendo, it’s a revelation. As Kenny starts to figure out the time-travel rules (aided both by his fellow travelers and by notes he leaves himself from the future), he becomes convinced he can save that mummified baby. Readers sadly accustomed to slapdash plotting may well be forgiven for their shock that all the plot threads come together, brilliantly.

Following the complex threads of adventure as they come together through the multitude of intertwined journeys is a joy. (Paranormal mystery. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3751-5

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion

THE SHADOW'S CURSE

A lost prince and his ladylove must defeat the tyrant rampaging over the steppes with an army of enslaved spirits in this sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (2015).

Raim is haunted by the spirit of his best friend, Khareh—a spirit that appeared when Raim accidentally broke an oath made by another, leaving him magically marked and exiled from his nomadic tribe as an oathbreaker. Khareh yet lives, but with the best part of himself lost in the spirit, his ambition has become megalomania. Not content to be khan of his tribe alone, Khareh aims to join all the northern nomads into one massive khanate. Raim seeks control over his spirit but also yearns to rescue Wadi, the dark-skinned desert girl to whom he's given his heart. Wadi is Khareh's captive, and she is more than capable of freeing herself from the cruel young khan; nevertheless she must stay a captive. It's her destiny to make a king of Raim, she learns from a blind seer in one of the stalest tropes of superpowered disability. Raim, Khareh, and Wadi travel all over the steppes of Darhan, giving a solid glimpse of this fantasy world roughly based on the lives of Mongolian nomads. A dense narrative of tiny chapters with shifting points of view leaves little time to become invested in each character's journey.

Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4512-1

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded.

ANGEL THIEVES

A Texas bayou holds memories and secrets, weaving together people and animals through connected histories.

Buffalo Bayou takes her place as part of an ensemble cast that spans nearly two centuries. Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis is a white boy who works alongside his father stealing angel statues from cemeteries for an antiques dealer, and Soleil Broussard is a 16-year-old Creole Christian with a tiny honey bear jar tattooed on her wrist. The two attend school together in present-day Houston, Texas, but the story intertwines their connection with stories of slaves and an ocelot in a narrative that runs away like the rushing of a river. Texas is a gorgeous backdrop for the story, eliciting haunting imagery that spotlights the natural beauty of the state. Each character helps piece together a quilt of experiences that stream from the omnipresent bayou who sees, hears, and protects, and the revelations of their overlapping connections are well-paced throughout. The novel is less successful, however, at underscoring why there are so many voices battling for space in the text. Too-short vignettes that are rather haphazardly forced together provide glimpses into the lives of the characters but make it difficult to follow all of the threads. While an author’s note offers historical background explaining the inspiration for the characters, it does not provide sufficient cohesion.

Moving imagery is muddied by disjointed character representation in a novel that feels overcrowded. (author’s note) (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2109-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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