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ENCHANTÉE

From the Enchanteé series , Vol. 1

Somewhat like its protagonist, Trelease’s debut at times falls a little flat despite its ideal trappings and never rises to...

In an alternate history, a teenage girl weaves magic to survive in revolutionary Paris.

Camille has always hated using la magie ordinaire, a magic that draws from sorrow to transform knickknacks into coins—a necessity to make ends meet for her and her sister since her parents died of smallpox. When their abusive addict brother steals their meager savings, Camille resorts to a darker magic—a dress and makeup enchanted by magie bibelot—to transform her appearance and, combined with la magie ordinaire, becomes a practiced gambler at Versailles, where she falls in with a small group of card-playing aristocrats. But all is not as it seems, and as she becomes increasingly addicted to la magie and the French Revolution looms, Camille discovers she’s not the only magician at court. With detailed descriptions and uneven pacing, the book sometimes feels overstuffed. Camille has a slow-burn romance with a biracial French/Indian balloonist, and race and racism are lightly touched upon. Camille’s first friend at court is gay, and here too homophobia is implied but is not explored in depth. Camille and other main characters are white. (The paperback edition of this work is titled All That Glitters.)

Somewhat like its protagonist, Trelease’s debut at times falls a little flat despite its ideal trappings and never rises to extraordinaire. (glossary, historical note) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29552-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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POWERLESS

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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BLOOD AT THE ROOT

From the Blood at the Root series , Vol. 1

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences.

Black diaspora magic manifests in a boy on the worst day of his life—but later, things only get more complicated.

When Malik Baron was 7, his mother vanished in the explosive moment his powers manifested while he defended them from mysterious cloaked figures. Ten years (and many foster homes later), the short-tempered Malik isn’t much better at controlling his powers, but he’s ready to leave Helena, Alabama, and start over with Taye, his foster brother. Reuniting with Mama Aya, the maternal grandmother in New Orleans he never knew, wasn’t part of the plan, but fate draws Malik to her—and into a secret world of magic. He discovers Caiman University—a sort of magical historically Black college—which may be where he’ll find answers to what happened to his mother. Narrator Malik, who uses colorful language, is fully aware of the Black Harry Potter subtext of his story, and he’s thoughtfully focused on protecting Taye, proving his mother is still alive, and surviving in a world that has never made things easy, even before supernatural threats emerged. The extensive worldbuilding incorporates West African, Caribbean, and Black American history and cultures to explain a magical reality hidden from view and relevant to the Black diaspora and Malik’s family history. When Malik bumps into an old friend and potential love interest on campus, everything is in place for him to grow into his powers, uncover the truth, and face new heartbreak.

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593711927

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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