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THE PIRATE AND THE PORCELAIN GIRL

Part fantasy, part fairy tale, part action-adventure—and all heart.

What would you risk for acceptance?

Ferra bemoans the loss of Ephemeral, the girl she loves, and wishes to be so “beautiful” and “unique” that she will return her affection. Ferra’s prayer is answered by a magical being who turns her into a living porcelain figure. Now extremely fragile, Ferra damages her face, leaving an empty hole where her left eye was. Wanting to cross the sea to be with her lost love, she overhears young pirate captain Brigantine bragging about her ship’s prowess. With a crew desperate for cash, Brig takes the job. They set sail, hot-tempered Brig clashing with know-it-all Ferra nearly the entire way. Ferra will do anything to be worthy of Ephemeral’s attention, while Brig has something to prove to the floating city of pirates who banished her. What follows is an extended tale exploring the importance of accepting oneself, including one’s so-called imperfections. The story is fun, sweet, and exciting and is set in a rich fantasy world where magic is rare but very real. Offering moments of genuine depth, it challenges the toxic idea that people should change just to please another. Barna’s illustrations add oodles of energy as well as visual expansions of the worldbuilding. Before her transformation to white porcelain, Ferra had light-tan skin and brown hair; green-skinned Brig resembles an ogre-type, and the population of this world reflects various real-world and fantastical races.

Part fantasy, part fairy tale, part action-adventure—and all heart. (Graphic fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781534487765

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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CHILDREN OF ANGUISH AND ANARCHY

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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