A compelling but uneven fantasy set in a magical school in the 22nd century.

In this YA fantasy, a teen gets tested and discovers that he’s the rarest form of hybrid.

In the 22nd century, 13-year-old Sebastian “Seb” Parker is finally free of his father’s house and in the Testing Centre to see what talent he possesses. After he endures the grueling, life-threatening test, the results show that Sebastian is not only a Hybrid, an alpha with at least two affinities, but also a Quad-brid, with all four talents. As a Quad-brid, Seb can pick any of the four specialties he wants to be trained in at “the Academy”—Healer, Conjurer, Telek, or, the most feared of them all, Necro. As much as Seb wants to be a Healer, his father’s threats of being forced to “live in the basement, forever,” where he was tortured and starved for months, lead him to choose Necro. Considering how scared the rest of the school is of Necros, it’s little wonder Seb has a difficult time connecting with his fellow students. This would make school hard enough, but unbeknown to Seb, his own teachers are petitioning for his death. A Quad-brid is dangerous, and there is a prophecy about an alpha “born of the Dark” who “will have power like no other” who sounds suspiciously like Seb. Despite all these challenges, Seb makes two friends at school—Michael Corey and Samantha Green. Maybe with some students actually on his side, Seb can survive his first year. In this ambitious series opener, Frances takes readers to a magical school with four distinct houses, weighty prophecies, and a special teen. But important worldbuilding information would have been better served in the narrative rather than in the preface, and some readers may find several comments about a character’s weight off-putting. Seb himself seems too powerful and too good to be true. But readers who overlook these missteps will find a captivating magical world with rich details that will hold their interest.

A compelling but uneven fantasy set in a magical school in the 22nd century.

Pub Date: May 27, 2022

ISBN: 979-8417874222

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2022


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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