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Familiar mythical creatures bolster this dark, ongoing adventure.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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A Canadian teen works to stop malevolent extraterrestrials from taking over Earth in this YA sequel to Lee’s H.P. Lovecraft–inspired The Midnight Games(2016).

Hamilton, Ontario, is still reeling months after terrifying beasts tried passing through a wormhole and a mysterious airship blasted the threat back to its own realm. Nate Silva, determined to track down that airship, called Sorcerer, treks through Hamilton’s North End during a heavy snowstorm. He comes across a rusty warehouse, and after he enters it, he learns that he’s actually inside Sorcerer—and that it’s about to take flight. This amazing craft and its crew have traversed time and space in a long-running battle against the Great Old Ones, a group of creatures plotting to colonize Earth. But humankind’s next threat won’t come from the sky; it turns out that the evil Nyarlathotep is already here, deep in the Pacific Ocean, ready to rise to the surface. Soon, Nate teams up with his grandfather, whom he’s never met before. The 80-something man, decades ago, survived a harrowing encounter at sea with something diabolical, and he may be the only one who can find its “underwater grave.” Lee enhances his novel with references to the Lovecraft mythos, although these don’t monopolize the narrative. Menaces include winged, clawed beasts called thrals and a creepy Cthulhu-worshipping cult (a remnant of the series’ first installment). However, there are other elements that smoothly tie into real-world events, including World War II, and a surprising passenger appears on Sorcerer, as well. Nate’s no-nonsense attitude befits a worthy hero, but Lee gives him just enough snarkiness to make him a believable teenager. The author further invigorates this sequel with vibrant detail, from the sounds of Sorcerer(“the airship sighed and shuddered like a huge beast with a broken heart”) to the description of the North End’s abandoned, dilapidated factories inhabiting “a Chernobyl-like wasteland.” A smashing cliffhanger sets up a potential third installment.

Familiar mythical creatures bolster this dark, ongoing adventure.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-989496-31-2

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Poplar Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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