A thought-provoking work that will encourage readers to learn more about the world of Elizabethan theater.

I WAS CLEOPATRA

All the world’s a stage, and for John Rice the stage is also his life, the scene of his greatest triumphs and the repository of his personal insecurities.

Abrams’ (The Play’s the Thing, 2015, etc.) novel is a fictional biography of the Elizabethan child actor believed to have originally played many of Shakespeare’s major female roles, including Lady Macbeth, Cordelia, and Desdemona. The story opens with Rice’s birth as the second son of a successful glove-maker. As one of seven children, Rice struggles to find his place in society, lacking the physical talents to follow in his father’s footsteps. His life changes when the King’s Men—the most famous theatrical troupe in London—comes to his hometown of Reading. Rice is transfixed by Alexander Cook’s performance of Rosalind and, with his father’s blessing, becomes the company’s apprentice, poised to take over the ingénue roles as Alexander ages out of them. What follows is a poignant coming-of-age tale that explores the complexities of youth and gender performance. Rice is a compelling protagonist, and his journey showcases the theater’s unique ability to free its denizens from mainstream societal expectations, although as he rises in the company he grapples with a Peter Pan–like horror of aging.

A thought-provoking work that will encourage readers to learn more about the world of Elizabethan theater. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-022-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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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