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


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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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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