Teenage girl magic is palpable, urgent, and simply marvelous in this must-have debut.

THE SCAPEGRACERS

From the Scapegracers series , Vol. 1

Since becoming an orphan at 7, it’s mainly been Sideways Pike and her spell book—until a raucous Halloween party blasts her world open.

In the West High social hierarchy, Jing, Daisy, and Yates are the queen bees who rule the roost. When they hire Sideways—offering her $40 in exchange for casting a spell to make their party the best of the season—the result isn’t only memorably spooky, thanks to the unbelievable creep factor à la Sideways, but also a disturbing mystery that bonds all four girls. To Sideways’ utter bewilderment, the triumvirate fiercely claims her, and she’s now a member of the most badass girl clique. Their camaraderie strengthens with each narrow escape as they curse toxic males and witch hunters and build their collective power. Readers will love the spooky pop-culture easter eggs and appreciate a fresh spin on the mean girls theme: Readers won’t despise, but will root for, this cunning, crass, and fiercely caring coven. Bitingly honest, fast-paced dialogue is a solid strength, as is the lyrical language, which is so intimate that readers will viscerally know how magic and emotions feel in Sideways’ body. Jing is cued as Chinese American, Yates is black, and all other characters are presumed white, including Sideways, who is lesbian, and her two adoptive dads.

Teenage girl magic is palpable, urgent, and simply marvelous in this must-have debut. (Paranormal. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64566-000-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Erewhon

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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A creative and compelling read.

A NEON DARKNESS

From the Bright Sessions series , Vol. 2

Robert can manipulate others—but he doesn’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse.

Following The Infinite Noise (2019), this Bright Sessions book tells the origin story of Damien, ne Robert, one of the podcast’s antagonists. When the book opens, Robert is an 18-year-old high school dropout and White boy with no family but all the material resources he could ever need. He has the power to make people do what he wants, or more accurately, to want the same things he wants. After arriving in Los Angeles, he falls in with a slightly older group of Unusuals with various powers who take him under their wing. Shippen combines an exciting plot with diverse characters—such as Neon, who is Black and queer, and Indah, who is Indonesian, Muslim, and lesbian—who defy stereotypes. As the group tangles with a shady organization that has kidnapped their friend, they also realize that the affection they feel for Robert might not be real. Robert’s emotional arc is interesting and unusual—he wants to be a good person, but he is selfish, manipulative, and unwilling to change. He is sympathetic while also being pitiful and contemptible and far too uncool to be an antihero. This may be the best Bright Sessions content yet as well as an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with this world.

A creative and compelling read. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-29754-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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