A direct and engaging quest tale with a delightful focus on family.

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A teenager learning to communicate with trees must search for the blight that threatens them in this YA fantasy.

Fifteen-year-old Mayten is an apprentice tree singer. While she has previously only chatted with trees—confiding in them as if to a sympathetic aunt—when she completes the Leveling Ceremony, she will be expected to take her profession more seriously. Mayten has started to feel distress emanating from the oaks and pines. Something is amiss in the forests surrounding her village and farther afield in the kingdom. The teen and her best friends, Tray (an apprentice traveler) and Cather (an apprentice healer), along with the surly Adven (a master traveler), good-natured Hunter (a woodsman), and Mayten’s loyal dog, Anatolian, must journey to the king’s castle and then onward to discover what is ailing the land. Mayten feels out of her depth (“She was expected to do a job she wasn’t qualified for”). Surely her mother—a master tree singer—should have gone in her place. Making matters worse, Adven’s attitude toward her is positively hostile, and people outside of her village seem to distrust and even loathe tree singers. Can Mayten uncover the dark history of her craft and save her beloved trees? Turner writes in the third person, past tense, from Mayten’s point of view, delivering a polished blend of inner thoughts, dialogue, and narrative descriptions. The fantasy world is well realized, with clear attention having been paid to its logistical underpinnings. At the same time, this information is imparted naturally and never in quantities that might overwhelm readers. Mayten is a relatable protagonist. She displays inner strength and determination but also suffers from common teen anxieties. Her quest functions as an allegory for growth and coming-of-age yet is perfectly enjoyable in its own right and pleasingly self-contained. The story moves swiftly and holds nothing back, not yoking itself to a sequel (although one would be welcome). The other characters have depth and personality, and Turner’s depictions of families—both Mayten’s and the king’s—prove a highlight. While the quest and its resolution turn out to be relatively slight, the human element is such that readers will fully immerse themselves in the story.

A direct and engaging quest tale with a delightful focus on family.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-943588-91-6

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Lucky Bat Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


A dark and gripping feminist tale.

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes.

When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.

A dark and gripping feminist tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063211506

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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