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

TREE SINGER

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

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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