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THE FREEDOM MAZE

Multilayered, compassionate and thought-provoking, a timely read on the sesquicentennial of America’s Civil War.

It’s 1960, but on the decayed Fairchild sugar plantation in rural Louisiana, vestiges of a grimmer past remain—the old cottage, overgrown garden maze, relations between white and black races.

Stuck for the summer in the family ancestral home under the thumb of her cranky, imperious grandmother, Sophie, 13, makes a reckless wish that lands her in 1860, enslaved—by her own ancestors. Sophie’s fair skin and marked resemblance to the Fairchilds earn her “easy” employment in the big house and the resentment of her peers, whose loyalty she’ll need to survive. Plantation life for whites and blacks unfolds in compelling, often excruciating detail. A departure from Sherman’s light fantasy Changeling (2006), this is a powerfully unsettling, intertextual take on historical time-travel fantasy, especially Edward Eager’s Time Garden (1958), in which white children help a grateful enslaved family to freedom. Sophie’s problems aren’t that easily resolved: While acknowledging their shared kinship, her white ancestors refuse to see her as equally human. The framing of Sophie’s adventures within 1960 social realities prompts readers to consider what has changed since 1860, what has not—for Sophie and for readers half a century later—and at what cost.

Multilayered, compassionate and thought-provoking, a timely read on the sesquicentennial of America’s Civil War. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-931520-30-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Big Mouth House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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CHILDREN OF ANGUISH AND ANARCHY

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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