The sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm (not reviewed) continues to spoof traditional fantasy, this time satirizing the “school for magic” genre. Nine years after the wizard Derk shut down the demonic Mr. Chesney’s devastating Tours, Derk’s precocious but naïve griffin daughter Elda enrolls in the Wizards’ University, only to discover its crumbling infrastructure, stripped library, and stunted curriculum reflect a faculty intent on stifling innovation in favor of utilitarian mediocrity. Elda assembles the requisite motley assortment of stalwart friends, sketchily presented in reverse stereotypes: the poverty-stricken prince, the beautiful, compassionate commoner, the meek imperial princess, the revolutionary jargon-spouting dwarf, and the vaguely Eastern target of fanatic assassins. After a brief pep talk on free enquiry from Derk, the six rapidly outstrip their tutors’ magical prowess, and are soon foiling various nefarious villains, inciting the overthrow of a repressive regime, stopping wars, and inventing interplanetary exploration. Meanwhile, each reveals the obligatory dark secret and overcomes personal trauma, and all are neatly paired off in a denouement of sudden, nigh-inexplicable romances. This is all fun, frothy stuff, and Jones writes with a deft hand and a wicked sense of the absurdities inherent in the conventional formulas. Teens harboring doubts about their teachers’ competency and sanity will revel in it. But the breakneck pace makes for perfunctory characterization and a muddled narrative, delivering neither the inspired lunacy nor the sophisticated twisty plotting that her fans expect. Like a chocolate-covered marshmallow, this is tasty fluff, but unsatisfying. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17898-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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