THE PROPHECY

THE WATCHERS CHRONICLES

An apocalyptic series with an evangelical subtext kicks off with this high-octane thrill ride. Five pre-teens were best friends once, sharing a mystical bond transcending race and class. But that was seven years ago, before something horrible happened: something that they can’t remember, that tore them apart, that sent them drifting into crime, drugs and despair; something that is now stalking their nightmares, drawing them back together to become embroiled in an ancient battle between angels of light and darkness. The plot is cleverly constructed with short chapters dissolving present and past, creating a phantasmagoric effect that constantly ratchets up the adrenaline level. While the heroes are sympathetic and fundamentally decent, they are presented with a graphic realism uncommon in Christian fiction and seem far older than their supposed years. The large cast, many sporting sound-alike or exotic names, can be confusing, and it’s not quite clear exactly what happens at the climax beyond a busload of setup for future books. Still, the combination of vivid cinematic detail, gritty adolescent angst and spectacular supernatural kickassery should prove irresistible. (Horror. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-310-71433-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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A charming Jewish love story set against the bleak backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition.

THE POETRY OF SECRETS

In Trujillo, in the Spanish Kingdom of Castile in 1481, Isabel is a Crypto-Jew; she and her family maintain their Jewish faith in secret.

The Inquisition is gaining control, but 16-year-old Isabel, who has a passion for writing poetry, thinks that as New Christians her family is safe. The family converted to Christianity and were baptized in the hope of making their lives easier and more secure. However, like many other Jews in Spain at the time, they privately practice Judaism—attending church on Sundays but conducting Shabbat dinners every Friday night. They think their secret is safe, but the head Inquisitor, Fray Tomás Torquemada, is now targeting conversos for their private Judaizing. When Isabel is betrothed against her will to the powerful and ruthless alguacil, or sheriff, Don Sancho, Isabel’s parents believe that the upcoming marriage will save them from persecution. But when handsome aristocrat Diego warns Isabel that she is in grave danger from the Inquisition and especially from her husband-to-be, Isabel is determined to save her family, herself, and the man she loves—and live an openly Jewish life filled with poetry. This historical romance is a fast-paced, plot-driven tale with feminist main characters whom readers will root for from the very beginning.

A charming Jewish love story set against the bleak backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. (author’s note, photos, research notes, poetry citations, further reading) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-63418-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.

STAR DAUGHTER

When half-star/half-human Sheetal Mistry accidently injures her father, she needs to ascend to Svargalok, the abode of the stars, to find him a cure.

Just shy of 17, Sheetal has brown skin like her human father, Gautam, and silver hair like her star mother, Charumati, but she has never truly known what it means to be a star. Her human, Gujarati family in New Jersey insists she hide her star heredity, as stars were once hunted by mortals for their silver blood, which has healing properties. As a result, Sheetal knows very little of her ancestry or what she is truly capable of. Following the accident that puts her father in the hospital, Sheetal and her best friend, Minal, go in search of Charumati for a drop of star’s blood to cure her father. Unfortunately for her, Nana and Nani—the Esteemed Patriarch and Matriarch of their constellation, Pushya, and Sheetal’s maternal grandparents—agree to save her father only if she wins a competition that will allow their family to rule over the other constellations. Loosely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (1997) and Hindu mythology, Thakrar’s debut covers the lives of stars, an unnecessarily complicated romance, and a half-star’s journey toward self-discovery. Refreshingly, all the characters are Indian or of Indian origin. Despite the fascinating premise, however, several characters lack the luster and conviction which would have otherwise added much-needed depth and heart to the novel.

Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.  (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289462-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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