Come for the ballet costumes, stay for the exposé of corruption.

SPLINTERS OF SCARLET

Issues of servitude and sacrifice simmer beneath the surface of a lush 19th-century fantasy.

Marit Olsen has lost her father (mining accident); her sister, Ingrid (magic overuse), and her place at the orphanage but is determined not to lose little 11-year-old Eve too. When Helene Vestergaard—a ballet dancer and former orphan who married rich—adopts Eve, Marit abandons her thankless seamstress job, following Eve to Copenhagen and into service. Like the other servants, Marit relies on her minor magic; all risk the inescapable, seemingly incurable, icy and fatal Firn by using their powers to keep the Vestergaards comfortable. Blaming the Vestergaards for her father’s death, Marit investigates the family, endangering everyone, even Eve. Chapters from the point of view of Philip Vestergaard explore how powerlessness, patriotism, and greed can lead to villainy. In addition to class inequality, Murphy tackles racism, with biracial Helene (Crucian mother/Danish father) and Eve (West Indian mother/father unknown) facing prejudice despite their talent and wealth in this otherwise white world. Part wish-fulfillment fantasy, with lavish descriptions of clothing, food, and flowers, part gritty whodunit, beneath the familiar upstairs-downstairs drama and glitter, the novel is also an extended (if sometimes obvious) metaphor for how the luxuries of capitalism, commerce, and colonialism ultimately cost lives.

Come for the ballet costumes, stay for the exposé of corruption. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-14273-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more