An ambitious, but unevenly executed, gay coming-of-age story draped in high fantasy.

THE DUBIOUS GIFT OF DRAGON BLOOD

A prophecy reveals the impending death of one of the Five Dragons of the Realm of Fire.

Sixteen-year-old Crispin Haugen is chosen to be the Dragon Groom who will mate with the Dragon Queen in order to maintain the Five. Crispin, who’s gay, is stunned to learn about his hidden dragon heritage and understandably unenthused about fulfilling his role. He already has enough on his plate, from being outed to his classmates to suffering the humiliation of having a crush publicly revealed. Upon arriving at the Realm of Fire, Crispin finds that his presence isn’t entirely welcome: Though the People hail Crispin’s arrival as a blessing, the pious Prime Magistrate refuses to acknowledge the prophecy and demands that Crispin leave. Further complicating matters is the growing attraction between Crispin and the Prime Magistrate’s handsome and devout pupil Davix. The recurring emphasis on personal agency and consent is a pleasant surprise, especially as it is applied to both intimate relationships and the chosen-one trope. Detailed worldbuilding and exposition slow down the narrative, but the action picks up in the final third of the book. Same-sex relationships are the norm in the Realm of Fire, and sexuality is understood to be fluid. Crispin is White and Filipino; all humans in the Realm of Fire have brown skin and black hair.

An ambitious, but unevenly executed, gay coming-of-age story draped in high fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63555-725-1

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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