A tale presents troubled adolescence and romance through the eyes of a remarkable teen protagonist.



A high schooler struck by lightning suddenly begins hearing—and conversing with—a boy’s voice inside her head in this YA fantasy.

Fifteen-year-old Floridian Mahlorie Moore is often alone, not always by choice. Her mom, Victoria M. Reddish, a famous author of romance novels, is typically away for book signings. Her magician dad, Bob, is usually performing on cruise ships. Though socializing is low on Mahlorie’s list, she reluctantly heads to a party one weekend that her best friend, Shai Dwenger, suggests. But after an intoxicated boy’s unwanted advances, Mahlorie leaves in the midst of a raging storm. She’s hit by lightning, which she miraculously survives. Only now she hears a male voice in her head, and it’s quickly apparent he can hear her, too. It takes some getting used to, but the boy is considerate and sometimes helpful, as when he provides the solution to a math problem in Mahlorie’s class. She learns she’s speaking with 17-year-old Dyson Hertz, who becomes a friendly voice and, eventually, something much more. When his voice evidently disappears, Mahlorie wonders if he’s simply no longer talking to her. So she searches for him to get answers and maybe see the boy she loves in the flesh. Mahlorie, who narrates her story, is a bright but convincingly flawed protagonist. For example, she seemingly has a fear of abandonment while simultaneously isolating herself. But she tends to be frank, and if a boy invades her personal space, she doesn’t hesitate to let him know. Engle’s first-rate cast of characters includes sometimes-selfish but consistently loyal Shai and Mahlorie’s creepy older cousin, Philip. Her parents are likewise memorable, although their jobs are excessively conspicuous metaphors (for instance, Victoria will “plot” Mahlorie like one of her characters; control in life is merely an illusion). Nevertheless, the author recounts familiar situations in lyrical fashion, from an awkward silence (“Quiet roars between us”) to a trek in the dark woods (“Night stretches through the crunch of leaves and sticks that snap beneath my feet”).

A tale presents troubled adolescence and romance through the eyes of a remarkable teen protagonist.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73287-862-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: JME Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...


From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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