Despite some shortcomings, an appealing retelling that draws in fans of fantasy and slow-burn romance.

THORN

From the Dauntless Path series , Vol. 1

A reluctant princess must decide between a life of anonymity and facing dangerous foes.

Despised by her mother and abusive brother, Princess Alyrra of Adania has little choice but to accept a proposal to marry Prince Kestrin, son of the ruler of the powerful kingdom of Menaiya, despite concerning rumors of violence and curses. On the journey to her betrothed, she is ambushed by her resentful handmaiden, who uses magic to assume Alyrra’s identity in a plot to entrap the prince. Alyrra has never wanted the life of a noble and seizes the opportunity to forge a new life as a commoner. However, interactions with Kestrin and learning about issues affecting the Menaiyan people, particularly women and children, leave Alyrra grappling with guilt over shirking her duties rather than effecting real change. When violence strikes those close to her, Alyrra must strive to correct her wrongs before it is too late. Debut author Khanani’s immersive and captivating retelling of “The Goose Girl,” originally self-published in 2012, depicts a protagonist who operates from her experience of trauma and aches for justice. Some plot inconsistencies and character motivations are questionable and detract from an otherwise well-woven tale. People of Adania have light coloring while Menaiyans have dark hair and brown skin; there are subtle allusions to Arabic-derived terminology.

Despite some shortcomings, an appealing retelling that draws in fans of fantasy and slow-burn romance. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283570-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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