Those reading the book for the mystery will have given up long before it grinds to its tepid, 400-plus–page conclusion.

VENOM

From the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series , Vol. 1

A romantic potboiler set in turn-of-the-17th-century Venice.

Readers meet Cassandra at the funeral of one of her best friends. Distraught, she leaves the funeral and bumps into a cocky young artist. That night, Cass goes wandering in the graveyard next to her guardian aunt's villa across the lagoon and discovers that her friend's body has been taken from its tomb and replaced with another's, a murder victim. Readers will not be nearly as astonished as Cass that she meets the artist again next to the tomb. Though she is betrothed to another, she and Falco quickly team up to solve the mystery. Their investigations involve many hugely unlikely excursions into Venice proper: to a charnel house, a brothel and a masked ball, all at night. Fortunately, Cass' aunt is wealthy, so she has gowns aplenty to replace the ones that get ripped, rained upon and otherwise ruined. Though the setting should be evocative, worldbuilding is continually hamstrung by clichéd and clunky American colloquialisms that overwhelm the occasional mild Italian imprecation. Steamy make-out sessions with Falco tempt Cass to adopt his carpe diem attitude—but could he be hiding a sinister secret? Her betrothed returns from France, setting up a love triangle that may prompt readers who make it to the end to pick up subsequent volumes.

Those reading the book for the mystery will have given up long before it grinds to its tepid, 400-plus–page conclusion. (Historical mystery. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25725-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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