A fun supernatural tale with well-developed characters and a touch of romance.

THE HOLLOW BOYS

THE DREAM RIDER SAGA: BOOK 1

In Smith’s fantasy series starter, a teenage superhero faces the gravest peril of his young life when two near-immortal figures start kidnapping young boys off the streets.

Seventeen-year-old billionaire graphic novelist Will Dreycott’s biggest secret is that when he sleeps, he becomes the Dream Rider—a masked vigilante whose ability to enter the world of other people’s dreams allows him to help solve crimes by feeding the information he collects to journalist Harry Lyle, who passes it on to the police. While awake, Will is a mild-mannered, successful creative artist, effectively trapped inside his tower in Toronto due to agoraphobia that began when his parents went missing eight years ago. After Harry asks for his help to investigate the disappearance of a number of houseless boys, Will meets Case, a 16-year-old girl whose younger brother, Fader, has been kidnapped. Case is desperate for help to save her sibling, and although she doesn’t trust the cops, she feels a connection with Will. As the pair start to fall for each other, they tangle with the fabled witch Morrigan and her lover, Marell, who have dark plans for the boys they’ve abducted and who possess powers that the Dream Rider fears he can’t face. Smith’s introduction to the Dream Rider Saga is a multilayered fantasy that pays homage to familiar superhero tropes—including the Batman-esque orphaned, rich vigilante—while adding a nice dose of magic and mystery to the mix. The story is character-driven and richly developed, highlighting Will’s fears of facing his enemies alone (“He was the only person left to stop a crazed super villain. And he didn’t have the slightest clue what to do”), Case’s ongoing struggle to avoid vulnerability, and the villainous Morrigan’s inner conflict. Other characters display uncanny powers like Will’s, and the mystery surrounding Will’s parents’ disappearance provides tantalizing information for future installments.

A fun supernatural tale with well-developed characters and a touch of romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2022

ISBN: 9781928048329

Page Count: 381

Publisher: Spiral Path Publications

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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