A richly imagined world continues to deepen in the third book of this well-realized YA fantasy series.

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Intrigue and danger intensify as a one-time castle maid with royal blood and magical gifts tries to claim her birthright.

A chilling prologue opens the third book of this YA fantasy series, which began with The Crowns of Croswald (2017). Set in the throne room and dungeon of the Dark Queen, what occurs is a reminder of what orphan Ivy, now 18 and the realm’s secret, rightful queen, will face if she doesn’t find the final missing piece of a legendary stone that will empower her to take the throne—especially if the Dark Queen, who thrives on the fear of others, finds the stone first. Ivy’s confrontation with the Dark Queen in Book 2, The Girl With the Whispering Shadow (2019), left a once-protected city of magic in ruins. The author now broadens the plot further with more high-stakes occurrences and shadowy markers of what is to come, leavened by entertaining worldbuilding and budding romance. Ivy, hidden from the monarch’s farsight, is back at the school that was once her royal family’s ancestral home, honing her magic skills as a student scrivenist (using ink and quill to cast spells). Her best friend, another royal, is a shape-shifter. There are dragons and giant “invisitaurs” to ride, carnivorous trees, shops filled with magical curiosities, travel by root roller (propelled underground by the roots of trees) and much more. Yes, there are the inevitable Harry Potter–ish comparisons to be made, but the author has made this series her own with an imaginatively complex world peopled by a well-drawn cast of vulnerable, villainous, sympathetic, tragic, and very human characters who come to life on the page. (Ivy herself uses her artful magic to discover her past in the pages of The Words of the Wandering, an old journal about the curse that rendered her royal family homeless and driven to wander Croswald unseen.) Unexpected death and betrayal, a revelation about the Dark Queen’s origins, and Ivy’s question-mark fate are all part of the shocking setup for the next book in the series.

A richly imagined world continues to deepen in the third book of this well-realized YA fantasy series. (acknowledgments, author bio)

Pub Date: May 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73385-903-5

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Stories Untold Press

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2020


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

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


A dark and gripping feminist tale.

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes.

When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.

A dark and gripping feminist tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063211506

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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