This is a thrilling adventure story. It would be twice as thrilling if it were split in two.

BENEATH THE CITADEL

Some authors take in medias res very seriously.

When this fantasy novel begins, the main characters have already been arrested for capital crimes, some of them have already dated and broken up, and key members of their rebel group have already betrayed each other or died. It makes for a dramatic opening (the first sentence is “Four people were supposed to die at sunrise”), but Soria (Iron Cast, 2016) has to spend the rest of the book filling in the background. Some facts are repeated several times, and one chapter is nothing but plot exposition, which makes it so dense it’s nearly unreadable. The story begins to feel like it ought to be the second book in a series, the sequel to a novel that was never written, but it’s the rare sequel that’s genuinely satisfying. The action is fast-paced, when it isn’t being interrupted with flashbacks and exposition. Many of the surprise plot twists are actually surprising. The premise, based around “infallible prophecies,” raises interesting questions about free will. (Aging Taylor Dayne fans may find themselves humming “You Can’t Fight Fate” after they start reading.) The characters are complex. (They are, however, mostly white, though a few have skin that’s ambiguously described as “bronze” or “light tawny brown,” and some are bisexual or asexual.)

This is a thrilling adventure story. It would be twice as thrilling if it were split in two. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3146-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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