A masterfully spun tale well worth the yearslong wait



From the Old Kingdom series , Vol. 5

At long last, fantasy master Nix returns to the story of Lirael.

Six months after the close of Abhorsen (2003), half sisters Sabriel and Lirael, Abhorsen and Abhorsen-in-Waiting, respectively, stand in Death. Their quarry: Chlorr of the Mask. Chlorr’s body was dispatched, but her spirit didn’t pass the Ninth Gate to the final death. Now one of the Greater Dead, Chlorr won’t die until her anchor in Life is found and severed. Meanwhile, in the North, pursued by enemies, a fiercely determined nomad called Ferin journeys to deliver a vital message to the Clayr. Chapters alternate between Ferin and Lirael, who first travels to nonmagical Ancelstierre to assist friend Nicholas Sayre and later converges with Ferin at the Clayr’s Glacier. Ferin’s message: a warning and instructions concerning Chlorr from Lirael’s long-dead mother. Never lacking in action, the story is equally concerned with showcasing Lirael’s evolution: experience has cultivated her confidence in herself and her abilities—though she’s still quiet and endearingly uncertain at times (especially regarding her romantic interest in Nick). Devotees will find her growth immensely satisfying and empathize with her aching, enduring grief over the loss of her best friend, the Disreputable Dog. Nix’s signature talent is in full effect, creating strong female characters, lucid descriptions, and an absorbing plot. Knowledge of previous Old Kingdom stories isn’t a prerequisite, but readers who take the time to go back to them will not regret it. Brown-skinned Ferin brings cultural diversity to Nix’s largely white England-analogue world.

A masterfully spun tale well worth the yearslong wait . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-156158-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.


Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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