Fans of fabulism will love this book but may find the denouement unsatisfyingly prosaic.

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ALONG THE INDIGO

Love, mystery, and tragedy in a small town with a haunted past.

Marsden does not want to be a prostitute. She and her sister manage to lie low, working in the kitchen of the boardinghouse that fronts as iron-fisted Nina’s brothel. Marsden is multiracial Chinese and looks strikingly similar to her mother, who provides exotic diversions for Nina’s largely white clientele. Marsden’s desperation to protect her younger sister from the debauchery they live among leads her to skim cash from dead bodies—and in this dark and mysterious tale, dead bodies abound. The covert—the neglected wooded land that is her birthright—captures the imagination of the lost and hopeless. Local folklore and a history of bloodshed lead many to believe that earth from the covert, along the Indigo River, contains magical powers of absolution. Suicide victims with cash in their pockets are a common occurrence in the covert, where Marsden runs into Jude, a boy from school who is also “as mixed as she was, except black to her Chinese.” Jude is there to look for clues to his older brother’s suicide, and Marsden reluctantly agrees to help. The story builds on eerie developments and real-world fears as Nina blackmails Marsden to turn her first trick. The book is captivating and unearthly, with beautifully poignant writing and elegantly drawn characters. However, resolutions are disappointingly mundane, leaving readers craving more poetry and magic.

Fans of fabulism will love this book but may find the denouement unsatisfyingly prosaic. (Fabulism. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2531-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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

THE BETROTHED

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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Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss...

TELL ME THREE THINGS

Jessie’s unassimilated grief over her mother’s death makes her dad’s abrupt marriage to Rachel, a wealthy widow he met online, and their subsequent move from Chicago to her mansion in Los Angeles feel like betrayal.

Rachel’s son wants nothing to do with Jessie. Her first week at his private school is agonizing. When she gets an email from “Somebody Nobody,” claiming to be a male student in the school and offering to act as her “virtual spirit guide,” Jessie’s suspicious, but she accepts—she needs help. SN’s a smart, funny, supportive guide, advising her whom to befriend and whom to avoid while remaining stubbornly anonymous. Meanwhile, Jessie makes friends, is picked as study partner by the coolest guy in AP English, and finds a job in a bookstore, working with the owner’s son, Liam. But questions abound. Why is Liam’s girlfriend bullying her? What should she do about SN now that she’s crushing on study-partner Ethan? Readers will have answers long before Jessie does. It’s overfamiliar territory: a protagonist unaware she’s gorgeous, oblivious to male admiration; a jealous, mean-girl antagonist; a secret admirer, easily identified. It’s the authentic depiction of grief—how Jessie and other characters respond to loss, get stuck, struggle to break through—devoid of cliché, that will keep readers engaged. Though one of Jessie’s friends has a Spanish surname, rich, beautiful, mostly white people are the order of the day.

Within the standard-issue teen romance is a heartfelt, wryly perceptive account of coming to terms with irrevocable loss when life itself means inevitable change. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53564-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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