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

READ REVIEW

THE FREEDOM MAZE

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. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Thoughtful and introspective.

THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL

From the Camelot Rising series , Vol. 2

More female-centric meandering through Arthuriana.

The sequel to 2019’s The Guinevere Deception continues to retell in close third-person the story of Guinevere, a magical blank slate with almost no memories of her past and little understanding of herself other than an unshakeable conviction in Arthur, as she tries to “fight like a queen” rather than a witch. The plot holds few surprises, being more a study of Guinevere’s internal landscape peppered with bursts of action slowed by Guinevere’s constant self-doubt. Cipher Guinevere wants to understand herself, but her lack of memory means she has little depth to draw from; she has limited identity beyond the questions she ponders and asks of her world. Happily, those questions revolve around power and nature as well as recurring themes of who and how to be, providing rich intellectual fodder for readers who want a think-y book with few conclusions (although the ending implies they are coming in Volume 3). In this version of Arthur’s legend, magic is chaos and female while Camelot is order and male; the exception to this dichotomy is Merlin, who is never seen directly but whose hand and lack of care drive Arthur’s story and give Guinevere a model of power against which to fight. Guinevere is White; secondary characters are diverse, from those with implied Asian and African parentage to a female Lancelot and a lesbian Isolde, although only Lancelot’s identity is interrogated within the context of Guinevere’s questions.

Thoughtful and introspective. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-58171-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more