An appealing supernatural series opener with rousing action scenes and sharp characterizations.

THE SCION, THE CHAOS WITCH, AND THE FELINE

From the Sagas of Arcadian City series , Vol. 1

Individuals “infected” with superpowers fight to stop their cohorts from kidnapping children in this debut novel.

For Grace Song, a high school senior in Arcadian City in the United States, a simple act of kindness changes her life. She intercedes when three dogs corner a cat only to suffer a canine assault, though she’s relatively unharmed. Grace takes in the cat, Deidre, who later bites her hand. This leads to an infection in which visible tendrils appear on Grace’s skin. And with that comes potent abilities, like easily tearing things apart, namely people. Meanwhile, 20-something Ethan Kaiser belongs to Arcadian City’s most influential family. Though he winds up framed for murder, his life ultimately intersects with Grace’s. By this time, Grace is a part of the Covenant Corporation with others also sporting superpowers, called Ultras. Some of the Ultras view themselves as superior to the rest of humanity. But Grace does not, nor does she abide by the Covenant’s plan to abduct gifted children for recruitment and immediate placement in the field. She finds an ally in Ethan, who develops abilities of his own, and the two plan to take down the enigmatic Kane, who seemingly masterminded the kidnapping plot. Although this supernatural series opener features solid action scenes, they’re primarily reserved for the novel’s latter half. Nevertheless, Eberhart aptly establishes characters in the slower Part 1, from Grace’s friend (and possibly more) Aryan Heather Skarsgarde to the Kaisers, particularly Ethan’s physician sister, Emily. While Grace, whose mother abuses her, is sympathetic, Ethan is decidedly less likable, as he’s unabashedly sexist. Still, the eventual confrontations between superpowered individuals are entertaining even if readers have already seen these abilities before, including flying, freezing objects, and transforming into a werewolf. The author truly amps up the action with strange but indelible onomatopoeia, such as “BURRRRP!” to signify a siren and “POCK!” for a variety of sounds, including a disengaging lock, a slap or punch, and suppressed gunshots.

An appealing supernatural series opener with rousing action scenes and sharp characterizations.

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79475-720-2

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Lulu.com

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2020

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The unexpected cliffhanger at the end of this Sapphic "Sleeping Beauty" will leave readers impatient for a sequel.

MALICE

An outcast and a spunky princess dream of revolutionizing their world even as one of them approaches her final, cursed days.

Long ago, the War of the Fae annihilated the Vila and their homeland, Malterre, but no one who survived the war—the humans of Briar and the light Fae of Etheria—seems to mind. Everyone knows that the Vila were nothing more than evil beasts, and that includes Alyce, the half-Vila forced to serve as Briar's Dark Grace. The light Fae blessed Briar's Graces with beauty and magical, golden blood, which they use to craft potions for paying customers throughout the land. As the Dark Grace, green-blooded Alyce bleeds life into mild curses that Briar's citizens use against one another. Alyce's hexes are nothing compared to the generational curse that one powerful Vila placed on the Briar Queen: to bear only girls, who must find their true loves before their 21st birthdays or die. The curse has already killed the current Briar Queen's two eldest daughters, locking the crown in a race against time to find a suitor for 20-year-old Princess Aurora. As Alyce soon discovers, after a chance meeting with the princess, Aurora doesn't want to marry a prince. Instead, she plans to break the curse, and who better to help her than the last Vila alive? Alyce and Aurora draw closer to one another, unable to articulate their budding romantic feelings, and that angst fuels much of the novel's drama. The anti-Vila racism Alyce endures grows darker and more deadly as the novel progresses, and her obliviousness to an obvious betrayal plot may frustrate readers expecting a heroine with a better eye for danger. Finally, a sudden series of terrible twists of fate—some unresolved, others resolved all too quickly—forces readers to contend with a shocking and abrupt cliffhanger ending.

The unexpected cliffhanger at the end of this Sapphic "Sleeping Beauty" will leave readers impatient for a sequel.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984818-65-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

A DEADLY EDUCATION

From the The Scholomance series , Vol. 1

A loosely connected group of young magicians fight horrendous creatures to ensure their own survival.

Galadriel "El" Higgins knows how dangerous the Scholomance is. Her father died during the school's infamous graduation ceremony, in which senior students run through a gauntlet of magic-eating monsters, just to make sure her pregnant mother made it out alive. Now a student herself at the nebulous, ever shifting magic school, which is populated with fearsome creatures, she has made not making friends into an art form. Not that anyone would want to be her friend, anyway. The only time she ever met her father's family, they tried to kill her, claiming she posed an existential threat to every other wizard. And, as a spell-caster with a natural affinity for using other people's life forces to power destructive magic, maybe she does. No one gave Orion Lake that memo, however, so he's spent the better part of the school year trying to save El from every monster that comes along, much to her chagrin. With graduation fast approaching, El hatches a plan to pretend to be Orion's girlfriend in order to secure some allies for the deadly fight that lies ahead, but she can't stop being mean to the people she needs the most. El's bad attitude and her incessant info-dumping make Novik's protagonist hard to like, and the lack of chemistry between the two main characters leaves the central romantic pairing feeling forced. Although the conclusion makes space for a promising sequel, getting there requires readers to give El more grace than they may be willing to part with.

A perilous, magic-school adventure that falls short of its potential.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12848-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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