THE GARDEN

This fleshy retelling of the Garden of Eden story, told from Eve’s perspective, includes an abusively arrogant God and a color-changing Serpent representing wisdom. Eve awakens into consciousness one day with the Serpent coiled around her body. It raises her and lives with her. The deathless, non-carnivorous Garden is lush with fruit and flowers; Eve’s happy until God forces Adam to rape her. Towards her recovery, the Serpent helps her travel secretly outside the Garden, seeing parts of nature that have grown beyond God’s control. Her mind, too, grows beyond God’s insistence that “it’s not good for you to think!” It may trouble readers (though it doesn’t trouble Eve) when the teacher/mentor Serpent becomes her lover. Caught between novel and allegory, this will challenge those who’ve never questioned biblical values, but it lacks the sparkle of Julius Lester’s When the Beginning Began (1999) (author’s note) (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-055605-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.

STAR DAUGHTER

When half-star/half-human Sheetal Mistry accidently injures her father, she needs to ascend to Svargalok, the abode of the stars, to find him a cure.

Just shy of 17, Sheetal has brown skin like her human father, Gautam, and silver hair like her star mother, Charumati, but she has never truly known what it means to be a star. Her human, Gujarati family in New Jersey insists she hide her star heredity, as stars were once hunted by mortals for their silver blood, which has healing properties. As a result, Sheetal knows very little of her ancestry or what she is truly capable of. Following the accident that puts her father in the hospital, Sheetal and her best friend, Minal, go in search of Charumati for a drop of star’s blood to cure her father. Unfortunately for her, Nana and Nani—the Esteemed Patriarch and Matriarch of their constellation, Pushya, and Sheetal’s maternal grandparents—agree to save her father only if she wins a competition that will allow their family to rule over the other constellations. Loosely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (1997) and Hindu mythology, Thakrar’s debut covers the lives of stars, an unnecessarily complicated romance, and a half-star’s journey toward self-discovery. Refreshingly, all the characters are Indian or of Indian origin. Despite the fascinating premise, however, several characters lack the luster and conviction which would have otherwise added much-needed depth and heart to the novel.

Great worldbuilding but not entirely satisfying.  (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289462-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Readers seeking spiritual inspiration will be intrigued.

THE DEFIANCE

From the Delusion series , Vol. 3

The battle between heaven and hell continues in this final installment of the Delusion trilogy.

It’s been four months since Owen witnessed an occult human trafficking auction on his property, and the Molek, Lord of the Dead, was taken away by the protective and benevolent Watchmen. Owen is desperate to know how he can drive the remaining evil presence out of Masonville for good. Along with Ray Anne, his devoted girlfriend, he now is attempting to root it out and determine where the truth lies—all while being pursued by mysterious forces and confronting old foes. Many new and frightening underworld creatures are introduced in great detail, and each embodies an aspect of spiritual warfare that Owen must learn to navigate. In the process, Owen discovers Molek’s plan to sacrifice 13 targets in town, and he races to save the potential victims along with the souls of everyone in Masonville, including people he loves dearly. The members of a considerable cast of spirits, demons, and heavenly guardians seem to come and go when it’s convenient to the plot but do little to advance a cohesive story; however, the power of faithful prayer and the ability of light to triumph over darkness are themes throughout and imbue the novel with a sense of hope. Most characters are assumed White.

Readers seeking spiritual inspiration will be intrigued. (Christian supernatural fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4964-3397-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wander

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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