From the Kingdom of Aevilen series , Vol. 1

A blonde California teen finds herself trapped in a fantasy world besieged by evil.

When 17-year-old Julia loses her house to wildfires, her family moves in with her grandmother Ina, who reveals to Julia that she is actually royalty and a refugee from somewhere called Aevilen. While snooping for evidence to confirm this unlikely tale, Julia discovers an enchanted necklace that transports her to an alternate dimension; before she can return home, she has to help Aevilen find the champion it so desperately needs. Clunky, clichéd prose describes a painfully generic, vaguely medieval European setting. Julia immediately bonds with Thezdan, a brooding, auburn-haired, green-eyed Guardian (read “Ranger”); other nonhuman races, like the Sylvan and Rokkin, fill the niches of stereotypical elves and dwarves. The narrative follows the beats of a video game, including plot tokens, puzzles, and side quests. Julia has the bland personality of a reader-insert, and her plot-convenient magic is all performed by her necklace with a hand-waving “somehow.” Other characters show more depth, but all view Julia solely through her ancestry. The chief antagonist—the All Aevilen People’s Party, which overthrew the (uncritically “good”) monarchy with random rhetoric of “Revolution”—is an obviously corrupt, sadistic front for a cartoonishly evil deity, a depiction that will baffle contemporary readers. Nonetheless, the action moves smartly, the violence is satisfyingly gory, and the volume ends with a textbook cliffhanger. All characters seem to be white.

Meh. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-951710-27-9

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Month9Books

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.


From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.


From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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