DUMBLEDORE

THE LIFE AND LIES OF HOGWARTS'S RENOWNED HEADMASTER: AN UNOFFICIAL EXPLORATION

Even readers on their own 14th rereads of the series will find new insights to ponder.

Albus Dumbledore: saintly mentor and protector of young wizards or ruthless Machiavellian manipulator?

In this edition of a previously self-published collection of essays gathered from his columns on the fan website MuggleNet, Khaytman spins hints in the texts and purely speculative notions together into a broad view of what Hogwarts’ headmaster knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it in his campaign to quash He Who Must Not Be Named. Even though he opens with a key to the jargon, readers who can’t keep SS (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) separate from QA (Quidditch Through the Ages) or easily distinguish Quirrellmort from Cupcrux will struggle to keep up as he minutely analyzes Dumbledore’s influence in events through each of the seven original HPs in turn. Khaytman writes that he reread the series 14 times but freely acknowledges ideas contributed by fellow fan critics both as he goes and, in greater detail, in an annotated bibliography. In the end, though, some of what Dumbledore did—or what he surmises Dumbledore must have done—creates a dilemma for readers, and the author ultimately leaves him, for all his scheming ways and imperfections, on the side of the angels. Dumbledore’s sexuality does not come up nor, aside from a reference drawn from DH to his character’s being “white as his beard,” does his race. Three appendices further explore the canon.

Even readers on their own 14th rereads of the series will find new insights to ponder. (Literary criticism. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-948174-78-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Media Lab Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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

A TEMPEST OF TEA

From the Blood and Tea series , Vol. 1

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner.

Bestselling author Faizal returns to the universe of We Hunt the Flame (2019) with a stand-alone duology opener.

Orphaned Arthie, brown-skinned with mauve hair, has created a criminal empire out of sheer pluck despite being Ceylani in Ettenia, where laws favor white people. She pulled legendary pistol Calibore from a stone plinth (though the prophecy that doing so would make her the nation’s leader turned out to be a hoax). She’s also built Spindrift, a teahouse-cum-bloodhouse, where she gathers secrets from wealthy humans and vampires, amassing power and security. Now Arthie has her sights set on vengeance—and the Ram, Ettenia’s masked monarch. When she and Jin, her brother-by-choice (who’s cued East Asian), are drawn into a heist, they assemble a diverse crew of immigrants whose roles riff on genre archetypes. The lush prose pulses with feeling as revelations are dropped and the tension ratchets up, keeping the pages turning as the motley gang plans to infiltrate a vampire society, retrieve a stolen ledger, and double-cross one of the Ram’s guards (who might be planning to double-cross them). Their ultimate goal: taking down the colonizing Ettenians and the exploitative East Jeevant Company. It’s all very exciting right up to the action-packed finale, which promises more conspiracy and (hopefully) justice to come. This compelling read offers interesting commentary on our society while feeling entirely real within the context of its own worldbuilding.

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389406

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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