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THE WAR OF THE WOODS

An engaging work of fantasy fiction with plenty of heart and heroism.

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A young royal heir embarks on a quest to defeat an evil queen and unite a fractured kingdom in this fourth YA fantasy series installment.

Gravely injured, 18-year-old Ivy Lovely lies hidden in the halls of her former school. She was saved thanks to the brave sacrifice of her friend Rimbrick and the protection of a dragon that was believed to be long extinct. However, Ivy is still marked for death by the Dark Queen—a malignant creature who has terrorized Croswald for 200 years. With every passing day, the Queen’s power grows, and the corrupted Bitter Forest where her castle stands (known to most as Norchburry Wood) threatens to envelop all who call Croswald home. Ivy, as the true heir to the Crown of Croswald, is the only one who can stop the Queen’s onslaught, but she can’t overcome her evil alone. Armed with a map and a set of clues that Rimbrick left her and supported by her handsome companion, Fyn, Ivy’s journey will bring her face to face with fear itself. But with the help of her friends, she hopes to find the courage to take a stand and offer healing instead of vengeance. This is a work that’s replete with beautiful imagery and pulse-pounding adventure. However, it’s more than just a fun work of fantasy, as Night also offers a story that will hold special resonance for young audiences as they watch Ivy, an unassuming and often frightened hero, grow into a strong woman. The story makes clear that the character’s ultimate triumph stems not from her denial of her fear but from her willingness to embrace and manage it. Ivy is appealing in her determination to make her own path and defy social expectations, and the novel highlights the positive outcomes that can happen when pursuing one’s dreams.

An engaging work of fantasy fiction with plenty of heart and heroism.

Pub Date: May 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73385-907-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: BCH Fulfillment & Distribution

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2022

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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