A notable new series for teens and adventure lovers.

THE LAST ARAKAD

VOLUME 1

Follow the adventures of two teens as they are inducted into a magical society and fight against a dark force.

Our heroes are two teens—shy, older sister, Maya, and her cocky, impulsive brother, Thomas. After their father dies mysteriously and their mother falls gravely ill, the family stays in Paris with a mysterious benefactor named Uncle D., who reveals that he had a special relationship with the teen’s father and offers to teach them an ancient magical art known as the Arakad. Soon after the training begins, Arakad masters across the world are discovered violently murdered. A rival gang called the Thaalung Clan has harnessed the power of the Arakad for evil purposes. Uncle D. must train his new students while fending off the forces of the Thaalung. An epic battle ensues that will crisscross Europe and involve a mysteriously addictive energy drink. The success or failure of this sort of story, particularly in the minds of young readers, depends almost entirely on how interesting the magic is. The best novels create detailed and even plausible descriptions of magical powers. Look at the way Harry Potter treated wizardry for a high-water mark. While not quite up to that standard, the Arakad is an interesting and entertaining mix of religion, mythology and sorcery. This book is the first in what is likely a multivolume series, and the groundwork has been laid for a satisfyingly epic story. In this first volume, as many questions are raised as answered. Wolf does have a weakness for New Age-inflected platitudes that even young readers will find cheesy, but these do little to detract from the momentum of the plot. Wolf has also taken the step of enhancing the book with online content that helps broaden the universe of the Arakad and further invest readers in the characters. If this standard of ambition and skill continues, the Arakad novels could make for a stellar new YA series.

A notable new series for teens and adventure lovers.

Pub Date: April 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470169022

Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.

DEFY THE NIGHT

The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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