Though not terribly innovative, still a solid choice for fantasy readers who prefer a large helping of adventure with their...

EVER THE HUNTED

From the Clash of Kingdoms series , Vol. 1

On a quest to save her life by finding her father’s killer, a teen girl discovers conspiracies between kingdoms on the verge of war.

Outcast Britta Flannery, distrusted in Malam because her mother was from neighboring enemy country Shaerdan, has no income source and is about to lose her father’s land back to the crown after his death. He, the king’s bounty hunter, has been murdered. Caught poaching, Britta’s given a choice: instead of execution, she can use her tracking skills to bring down her father’s killer, revealed to her as Cohen Mackay, her father’s former apprentice and her best friend—whom she secretly loves. Devastated, she agrees. Soon, though, her mission to find her father’s killer takes her over the border into Shaerdan, where she learns a lot more about magic (forbidden and punishable by death in Malam—Britta herself has a secret ability, telling truths from lies), her family, and the dark power drawing the two countries into conflict. All characters seem to be white. Archer Britta is a familiar type of heroine, and the majority of the predictable plot twists happen right on schedule, but the writing quality is good. The strong climax sets up a cliffhanger for the sequel, which will not be unwelcome.

Though not terribly innovative, still a solid choice for fantasy readers who prefer a large helping of adventure with their romance. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-66445-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A dazzling debut.

BEASTS OF PREY

Opposites come together hoping to capture a menacing creature, only to find a greater purpose.

Ekon Okojo, studious and cautious, aspires to continue his family’s legacy as a Son of the Six, one of the city of Lkossa’s class of anointed warriors. Passionate and impulsive Koffi, who dreams of being free, is an indentured beastkeeper of the Night Zoo—a collection of exotic species owned by the greedy Baaz Mtombé. In the span of a single night, their paths cross and their destinies are forever altered: Ekon is cast out of the warrior class, and Koffi faces a lifetime of servitude. The pair form a tenuous partnership and venture into the Greater Jungle to hunt the Shetani, a powerful, vicious monster, hoping this will solve both their problems. As they are both headstrong and mistrustful, they get off to a rough start, but they become closer with each brush with death. Their quest for vengeance on the Shetani, which is wreaking havoc on Lkossa, turns into something more when they make an unanticipated discovery. Saving their village—and humanity—comes down to Ekon’s warrior instinct and Koffi’s ability to control the magic her people call the splendor. This pan-African story, rife with betrayal and narrated through poetic language that evokes vivid imagery, will ensnare readers, keeping them engaged with its energetic pace. The beautiful blend of mythology, romance, and action ends with a hint at more to come. All characters are Black.

A dazzling debut. (maps, author’s note) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-40568-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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