A first novel that compares honorably with Sutcliff's books in its lyrical evocation of Arthur's Britain and is also akin to Napoli's The Magic Circle (p. 789) in its contemporary reworking of legendary figures—particularly women. Omitting Merlin and Lancelot, Wein incorporates Welsh lore and names in her story: at Artos's Camlann are his queen, Ginevra, and his three children: twins Goewin and sickly Lleu, Artos's legitimate heir, and their older half-brother Medraut (Mordred), whose narrative is addressed to beautiful, dangerous Morgause—Artos's sister and Medraut's mother—a cruel, fascinating woman whose gentle hands more often harm than heal. Conniving to make Medraut Artos's heir, she torments Lleu with poisons, while Medraut—a gifted, richly complex young man whose deep ambivalence about Lleu governs the story—heals and taunts him, teaches, admires, and envies him and finally takes the lad hostage at Morgause's behest. Lleu, coming into his real strengths, turns tables on his captor; their journey home is one of self-realization and reconciliation—themes emblemized, earlier, in a solstice celebration when the ``Winter Prince''—the Old Year's son— enables the New Year's birth. The metamorphosis of the relationships is both dynamic and subtle, and Wein's chosen voice is intriguing, since there's no setting for the telling—is Medraut still compelled, even when his loyalties have shifted, to explain himself to Morgause? Goewin, who's as able as her brothers and empathizes with her aunt's thwarted ambition, may have a tale of her own. A mesmerizing, splendidly imagined debut. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-689-31747-6

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.


From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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