Readers who remain intrigued by Aislynn’s world will have to wait for the next book.

STRAY

Fairy-tale tropes are turned on their heads in this exploration of class and ideology.

Aislynn is a princess who has always intended to follow the Path. However, her wicked heart is often at odds with her desperation to obey the rules that state she must resist the curse of her innate magic. Despite her practice of self-mutilation to release excess magic, in a moment of heightened emotion, Aislynn uses magic and is Redirected. Now, instead of marrying, Aislynn is assigned to be fairy godmother to another princess. Purged of feeling, Aislynn’s relief in her freedom from her overpowering emotions is sympathetic, as is her horror when those emotions eventually resurface. In her new life, she makes new friends who challenge her assumptions about the very foundations her life is built upon, forcing Aislynn to choose between what she’s been taught and the truth. While Aislynn’s blind obedience to the Path is understandable, her often willful ignorance of the obvious may bewilder readers. The creative use of the role of fairy godmother is fascinating, as is the fantasy world, but the disjointed and abrupt ending may perplex those who expected resolution.

Readers who remain intrigued by Aislynn’s world will have to wait for the next book. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227455-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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