While the love is so at-first-sight as to be clichéd and the cultural issues problematic, this debut is otherwise sensitive,...

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD

Time-slips on a time crunch give a teenage girl a long shot at love.

Natalie had thought therapy had banished her favorite hallucination, a mysteriously knowing old woman who calls herself Grandmother and tells Natalie world creation tales and Native American legends. But now she’s returned, with a cryptic message: Natalie only has three months to save an unknown “him.” Before Natalie can puzzle this out, she starts experiencing strange time-slips into an alternate reality where small things are different, centering on a handsome boy who disappears and reappears, a boy to whom Natalie feels an immediate connection. But these moments are unpredictable and disturbing, and Grandmother’s warning hangs overhead, forcing Natalie to spend her last summer before college trying to solve a mystery rooted in suppressed trauma from her past. Natalie, a Native American adoptee, already deals with identity issues that parallel the split worlds she finds herself bouncing between. Moments of introspection are balanced by fully realized secondary characters and occasional moments of hilarity. The story begins slowly but picks up speed and intensity as the clock runs out, ending in a conclusion of intricate twists. Natalie’s specific tribal heritage is unknown, and her search for identity informs the plot in artful ways; although issues surrounding the ethics of cross-cultural adoption and cultural appropriation are carefully touched upon, it’s still hard not to see Natalie’s background as a plot device more than anything else.

While the love is so at-first-sight as to be clichéd and the cultural issues problematic, this debut is otherwise sensitive, lyrical, and deftly plotted. (Speculative fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-850-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger.

KINGDOM OF THE WICKED

From the Kingdom of the Wicked series , Vol. 1

A vengeful Sicilian witch forges an unlikely alliance resulting in epic, supernatural consequences.

Eighteen-year-old Emilia di Carlo and her twin sister, Vittoria, have a secret: They are streghe, trained from a young age to use magic. Emilia is as introverted and romantic as her sister is bold and irreverent, but they share a love of good food and a disregard for their grandmother’s warnings about the devil and his brothers. Known as the Malvagi or Wicked, the seven princes of Hell have not been seen in years until tragedy strikes and a foray into forbidden magic accidentally summons the Prince of Wrath: Three witches—including Vittoria—are dead, and Emilia is desperate to avenge her sister and stop the killings. An uneasy truce with Wrath soon blossoms into a tantalizing, dangerous attraction with an uneven power dynamic. Rich worldbuilding constructs a post-unification Kingdom of Italy in which witches, demons, and shape-shifters live—and battle—among oblivious humans in a society strongly influenced by the Catholic brotherhood in its midst. Several significant plot points unfold in a Capuchin monastery and its eerie catacombs, and the brotherhood's conflation of witchcraft with the devil is emphasized throughout. Most characters are cued as White—Emilia and her sister have brown eyes and hair and olive skin—while the dark-haired Wicked have golden skin.

An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger. (map) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42846-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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