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

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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