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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Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues.

HOUSE OF DRAGONS

From the House of Dragons series , Vol. 1

In a world dominated by order, chaos threatens to upend tradition when unlikely competitors are chosen to fight for the throne.

Emperor Erasmus is dead, leaving the Great Dragon to decide the future of the Etrusian Empire. Traditionally, the oldest child from each of the five Houses and his or her dragon compete for the throne. However, this time outsiders are called to compete: Chara and her rider, Emilia, youngest daughter of House Aurun, who holds the magic of chaos; Tyche and her rider, Lucian, reformed warrior of House Sabel; Karina and her rider, Vespir, the lowborn, lesbian servant girl and dragon handler of House Pentri; Dog and his rider, Ajax, the wily illegitimate son of House Tiber; and Minerva and her rider, Julia, who are challenged by Hyperia, who believes the throne is her birthright, and her feral dragon, Aufidius. During the stages of the Emperor’s Trial—the Hunt, the Game, the Race, and the Truth—each competitor faces their own personal weaknesses. Multiple perspectives create depth in this complex fantasy world with flawed human characters who have murder, destruction, thievery, and cowardice in their backgrounds. Cluess’ dragons have unique personalities and voices of their own, becoming as central to the story as their human riders. Most characters are cued as white; blonde hair and blue eyes are valorized. Vespir’s lesbian identity is neatly and naturally woven into her character.

Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64815-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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