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Meaningful magical resistance.

In this fantasy anthology featuring entries by a broad range of trans authors, transgender teens discover strength, truth, and magic in themselves as they fight oppressive societal expectations and define their own destinies.

Tilluster College couldn’t take away Rae’s magic, so instead they threaten to kill everyone Rae loves. Ari thought magic school would solve their problems, but as they struggle with incantations, they still feel like an outcast. Defying the gender-bound traditions enforced by the Council of Elders, Ciano braves siren-infested waters to pursue their dream. Treacherous deals with ancient powers, alluring curses, prowling monsters, and fairy-tale enchantment fill the pages of this timely collection that centers transgender characters figuring out where they belong and choosing themselves. Several stories feature magical regimes enforcing binary traditions that protagonists dismantle not only for themselves, but for their entire communities, whether that means standing up to the director of the Intramural Broomstick Derby summer league or a clan guarding the door between the realms of life and death. Some characters undertake a different battle—unlearning the rules they’ve enforced on themselves. In addition to common themes of self-discovery and belonging, a subtle thread of recurring images ties the stories together. Well-crafted prose and enticing worldbuilding heighten the collection’s appeal. The cast of characters also centers, reflects, and celebrates other types of diverse identities. Although the tones range from soft to suspenseful, every story is resolved with hope.

Meaningful magical resistance. (content warning, author bios) (Fantasy anthology. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780063218796

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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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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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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