More about costume than character or story.

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HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS

Mysterious deaths plague an island dukedom in a loose retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

Annaleigh Thaumas has spent the last few years mourning her mother and several sisters, who died in succession under increasingly eerie circumstances. Her remaining sisters chafe under the lifestyle restrictions of formal mourning on their small, isolated island home, especially their inability to wear pretty clothes and flirt with boys. When their young stepmother persuades their duke father to let them wear bright colors and start dancing again, Annaleigh and her sisters are relieved, especially when a mystical door in the family crypt conveniently transports them to glamorous ballrooms that provide venues to show off their new wardrobes. Annaleigh and her sisters read like interchangeable paper dolls, their painstakingly described gowns, jewels, and shoes the most distinguishing features about them; they spend their time screaming, swooning, and alternately competing for and cowering behind the men in their lives. The island setting is extremely one-note, as if an ocean-themed children’s party became an entire culture, and there is no consistent interior logic to the rules of magic and gods that seem to shift, like the tides and the weather, according to narrative convenience. The writing is self-consciously stiff, and the story reads like a mood board, full of repetitively atmospheric images and scenes but never creating a substantive whole. All characters are white.

More about costume than character or story. (Fairy tale retelling. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3192-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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