Nonetheless, readers who don't mind being bludgeoned with "Tolerance GOOD! Prejudice BAD!" should find this a...



From the Watersmeet series , Vol. 2

Heavy-handed moralizing weighs down a generic but competent coming-of-age fantasy.

Abisina had thought that the death of the Charach would lead her mother's people, the xenophobic, misogynistic Vranians, to embrace the egalitarian philosophy of Watersmeet, led by her heroic centaur father. But things didn't work out that way: Watersmeet, overwhelmed by refugees, chooses isolation and casts out Abisina and her friends when they protest. Exiled to the south, they find the Vranians suffering from the devastation the war left behind but still no more accepting of dwarves, centaurs and fauns than before. Even worse, Abisina discovers that she has inherited more from her father than his ideals: a legacy that may destroy her sense of self. This title is very much a "middle book," as several subplots are set in motion, but none are really resolved. Convenient revelations provide a hint of back story to the world, but there's not much coherent explanation, nor any nuance to individuals or communities. There is nothing original in the narrative treatment of the magical creatures, who are distinguished mostly by their attitudes towards Abisina: They either adore her uncritically or are bigots and bullies. The overt message of equality wars with the subtext that talent, authority and morality derive from genetic descent rather than actions and beliefs.

Nonetheless, readers who don't mind being bludgeoned with "Tolerance GOOD!  Prejudice BAD!" should find this a diverting-enough adventure . (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5978-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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