THE LOST PRINCESS OF AEVILEN

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.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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