A gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gritty, honest and brave ending to an appealing trilogy.

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ROGUE

From the Croak series , Vol. 3

Sarcastic—sometimes devastatingly so—repartee connects readers to the band of surly teenage grim reapers risking everything on their mission to save the Afterlife.

Uncle Mort’s plan to save the Afterlife by enlisting Junior Grims to help destroy the portals that access it is full of risks, loopholes and secrets—and fiery-tempered, impulsive Lex is the plan’s unstable lynchpin. Combined, these elements set the stage for Damico (Croak, 2012; Scorch, 2013) to dispatch favorite characters to their untimely demises (a difficult but admirable choice that maintains the integrity of a novel about grim reapers). In spite of the necessary tragedies, Damico avoids complete bleakness by infusing characters’ responses to nearly overwhelming odds with irreverent, brash humor (as Mort remarks, “If you can’t have fun at the end of the damn world, when can you?”). The banter reminds readers of the resiliency of the human spirit and its astounding ability to create moments of normalcy (even joy) in the most trying of times. Yes, it’s a novel about violence, hate and vengeance, but it’s also about love, redemption and triumph. A quick refresher of the first two novels will help decrease confusion, as detailed reminders of events and characters from previous novels are scarce.

A gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gritty, honest and brave ending to an appealing trilogy. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-544-10884-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Graphia

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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