SMOKING MIRROR

AN ENCOUNTER WITH PAUL GAUGUIN

French post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin’s arrival in the lush, colorful world of Tahiti in 1891 is the focus of this second entry in the Art Encounters historical-fiction series. Fifteen-year-old Mexican-American, Joe Sloan and his French sailor friend Robert arrive in Papeete to find Tehane, Robert’s Tahitian fiancée. When Robert is murdered, a stunned Joe feels haunted by Smoking Mirror, the Aztec god of loss and change. Consumed with revenge, Joe encounters the eccentric Gauguin with his naïve visions of “an exotic paradise full of unspoiled primitive people.” After a shaky start, Joe gradually assimilates and forgets about revenge as he falls in love with Tehane and supports the penniless, temperamental Gauguin in his search for “savage” beauty. Ultimately Joe helps Gauguin “paint the world new, as it was at the creation,” and Gauguin helps Joe confront Smoking Mirror. An intimate peek at Gauguin’s creative process and the story behind the cover painting Matamoe with just enough action and native color to entice. (notes, biographical timeline, and suggested reading) (Historical fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8230-4863-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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Too much hat, not enough cowboy.

ASHLORDS

From the Ashlords series , Vol. 1

A dystopian flip of colonialism mixes with horses on fire.

In the Empire, the dark-skinned Ashlords are a minority but have all the power. Each year they stage a spectacular multiday race on phoenixes—horses that rise from ashes at dawn only to die in flames each night. Pippa, the teen daughter of former winners, is this year’s favorite, but she’s challenged by Adrian, a tough Longhand cowboy from an oppressed group of rebels, and Imelda, the lone Dividian given free entry into the contest. The light-skinned Dividian were invaders who failed to conquer and who now live subject to the Ashlords (who credit their superiority to the intervention of their many gods). Phoenixes can have magical powers, depending on what you add to their ashes. It’s a lot of stuff crammed into one novel. Reintgen (Saving Fable, 2019, etc.) fits it all in, mostly (the gods never do make sense), with economical, crisp writing, at the expense of character development and overall clarity. The most well-developed relationship, between Imelda and her friend Farian, is abandoned after the first chapters. The worldbuilding falters, too: They have sophisticated computerized technology, including holograms and video streaming, but rely on horses and carriages for all transportation. It requires close reading to understand that the pale, invading Dividian majority are oppressed; the facts are told piecemeal without the analysis that might have given readers insights into our own world's history of colonialism

Too much hat, not enough cowboy. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11917-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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SURRENDER

A literary psychological thriller, hauntingly told, of a lonely, ostracized boy who “since childhood had been building a wall meant to protect [him] from the worst of the harm.” Anwell, renamed Gabriel, “the messenger, the teller of astonishing truths,” is 20 years old and dying of an unnamed illness. Through flashbacks, and from alternating perspectives, Hartnett’s grim, beautifully written tale of adolescent yearnings gone awry gradually unfolds. Isolated in a home with punitive, repressive parents, trapped in a country town that “has as many eyes as a fly,” where he can never live down a fatal mistake he made when he was seven, Gabriel makes a secret, binding boyhood pact with Finnigan, an unpredictable gypsy-child, in which he surrenders his right to do wrong, and after which unsolved violent incidents occur. The reader is caught by the many layers of mystery, and by the resilient lyricism, the powerful imagery. The clues piece together masterfully, as what was set up as a complex friendship between two boys and their beloved dog evolves into a chilling story of love, guilt, revenge and sorrow. Sophisticated young readers will be awed by the delicate, measured, heartbreaking portrait that emerges. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2768-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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