Cat and magic fans, unite!

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DUNCAN, SON OF SAGIRA

The cats are not what they seem.

Duncan’s feline mother always knew he was different. She had seen his newborn kitten eyes flash gold, just as hers did when she had visions of the future. He seems to have inherited the ancient magic of Sagira, a cat that possessed powers feared by both cats and humans. Now, cats conceal their intelligence and ability to talk from humans, although it was not always this way. In Sagira’s time and place, 900 B.C. in Egypt, cats and humans had respected one another and communicated openly. The mutual respect lasted only so long after humans discovered Sagira and her abilities to burst into flames, bend minds, see the future, become invisible and move at incredible speed. Obsessed with Sagira, the Egyptians began to worship her and all cats; but she denied their affections and kept to herself. The worship of cats soon turned to hate and fear, which led to massive feline slaughter by humans. Cats slowly learned to live peacefully with humans by pretending to act as house pets. Before Sagira died, she left behind a book of prophecies as well as five kittens, each possessing one of Sagira’s powers—that is, until Duncan. After being adopted by a young human couple and forced to live with a hostile, older cat named Whiski, Duncan discovers that he has inherited all five of Sagira’s powers. In an effort to learn how to control his powers and keep his new family safe, Duncan and Whiski set out to find help. But will the mysterious feral cats that protect Sagira’s book help Duncan find the answers before the hateful purebreds kill him? The story is incredibly imaginative and quirky. Employing real-life references, Holley gives the illusion that this story isn’t as outlandish as it seems. She has inspired explanations for why black cats are known as bad luck, and she playfully hints at the hidden intelligence of house cats. The pop-culture references—kittens watch Star Trek—are both comical and bizarre. She even manages to include a cult of nasty purebred cats that act as a hate group. Unabashedly goofy, the well-written, action-packed story doesn’t end here; it’s only the first of a three part series.

Cat and magic fans, unite!

Pub Date: May 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477475232

Page Count: 280

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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