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

THE WORDS OF THE WANDERING

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

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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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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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