A run-of-the-mill story in a beautifully drawn fantasy world.

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The Last of the Firedrakes

BOOK 1: THE AVALONIA CHRONICLES

An orphan discovers her royal roots in the first book of Oomerbhoy’s debut YA fantasy series.

Aurora Darlington is a 16-year-old orphan living with an extended family that seems to despise her existence. If there were a closet under the stairs, she’d be living in it. Aurora’s life is turned upside down when she finds herself kidnapped and transported to the magical kingdom of Avalonia—an alternate world in which Aurora is a princess. She’s also a mage and one of the fae. Unfortunately for Aurora, her claim to the family throne and her incredible powers make her an attractive target. The evil Queen Morgana is hunting Aurora, hoping to extinguish the last of the Firedrake dynasty. Aurora finds safe haven with her birth family, makes new friends, and encounters a host of mythical creatures to help. She also attends a school for magic, where she begins to get a handle on her power. As she learns more and more about her family and kingdom, Princess Aurora becomes determined to defeat Morgana and claim her crown. The mysterious Black Wolf is an added bonus, a handsome and mysterious outlaw who repeatedly comes to Aurora’s aid. Oomerbhoy’s fairy tale has a familiar feel: a damsel in distress, an evil villain, a handsome prince, and an assorted cast of magical beings. Some of the narrative components echo the classics; the Academy of Magic at Evolon could be Hogwarts, while the Shadow Guards are reminiscent of Tolkien’s Ring Wraiths or Rowling’s Dementors. Aurora can be a tepid heroine, uncomplicated in her internal dialogue and often slow on the uptake (she may be the only one surprised by her love interest’s true identity). Yet Oomerbhoy admirably creates her world, and the descriptions of villages and feasts are the novel’s best parts. At the library of Evolon, “wisteria had climbed the walls of the front façade, which was huge and imposing, and two additional wings led out at right angles towards the sea.” Even discouraged readers will want to wander inside.

A run-of-the-mill story in a beautifully drawn fantasy world.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940014-70-8

Page Count: 488

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2015

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THUNDERSHINE

TALES OF METAKIDS

In a well-written gambol through weirdness, Skinner (The Wrecker, 1995, etc.) offers four highly imaginative short stories about young people with supernatural powers. In the first story, Jenny can change the world, and change history, by changing the maps she draws. The narrator, Laurie, knows Jenny is out of control, and when Jenny creates a second sun and splits the earth in two, Laurie is ready to act. The second story is about a world where people “bop”—instant travel just by thinking of a location—instead of walking from one place to another. Mae, however, either can’t bop, or won’t, a prospect that intrigues the narrator. In the third tale, Meredith, who has a supernatural connection with the planet Pluto, and Dexter, who is able to spray-paint with his mind, unite their powers. In the fourth and longest story, Jake finds himself deeply in love with a religious girl, Louise, and both of them are tempted by the powers a metahuman, Nina, has bestowed upon them. All four stories will captivate readers, and may even get them thinking about deeper ideas. Skinner’s often humorous portrayal of young adolescents is on target, and while the stories resemble writing exercises, lacking the sustained, pulse-pounding poetic turns of his novels, they are consistently entertaining. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80556-X

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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FIREBIRDS SOARING

AN ANTHOLOGY OF ORIGINAL SPECULATIVE FICTION

This follow-up to Firebirds Rising (2006) will hold great appeal for fantasy fans who don’t mind exchanging their epics for short stories. From the lush and lyrical to the minimalist, soaring is exactly what these stories do, taking the reader through unexplored lands of the fantastic, well beyond wizards, vampires and faeries. Some stories are clearly rooted in fantasy legends, like Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s flowing centerpiece, “The Ghosts of Strangers.” Others, like Carol Emshwiller’s “The Dignity He’s Due,” employ some characterizations and settings that step just beyond reality, satisfying those who can’t get enough of the urban fantasy genre. Each story includes an author’s note for further information. Traditional themes in YA literature, including romance, deception and family relations, drive the stories. Both acclaimed and lesser-known authors are included, so readers who pick this up because they recognize a favorite author’s name may discover new favorites. (Short stories/fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-14-240552-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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