A fantasy with tremendous heart and a magisterial execution.

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WHERE DRAGONWOOFS SLEEP AND THE FADING CREEPS

This debut YA novel transports three teenage heroes to a magical realm that may vanish before they can save it from a despotic ruler.

Thirteen-year-old Ben Young has awoken in a forest beneath a red sky. He heads for a clearing, where he meets a girl collecting glowing flowers. She says she’s protecting them against something called the Fading. Ben next encounters a pair of faeries who lure him into a net that dangles him over a boiling swamp. Luckily, two elves save him from the faeries with arrows. Accompanying the elves is Marcus Cooper, a 13-year-old boy, who explains that the Fading is causing the spread of white nothingness on this world, Meridia. But Ben’s watch—a gift from his father that has stopped at midnight—might be the key to halting the Fading. Meanwhile, at the Blue Glass Palace, 13-year-old Queen Regent Avery Hopewell, like Ben, remembers little of how she comes and goes from Meridia. Fate has placed her in the path of Ben and Marcus but also in the way of the evil Sovereign, who plans to dominate all. Can the three teens reach the Creator’s Citadel and preserve the multifaceted beauty of Meridia? In this novel, Massey evokes the charm and psychedelic whimsy of classic fantasies like The Last Unicorn and films like Labyrinth. The heroes may pop in and out of Meridia via dreams, but their waking lives are just as dramatic as battling dark armies. Avery, for example, lives in a group home and still occasionally wets the bed yet has the intellect to be a catch for any foster family. As the teens tackle fantasy evil, they gain the confidence to address bullies and other real-world problems. The author’s dialogue, a buffet of snark and riddles, consistently augments the imaginative story. The dragonwoofs, a trio of underwhelming winged dogs who accompany the group, prompt Tamerlane the elf to ask, “How will these creatures learn to use their abilities if you keep sheltering them?” In this striking tale, Massey encourages parents to let children make mistakes as they explore their talents and identities.

A fantasy with tremendous heart and a magisterial execution.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-980944-39-3

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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