A full-throttle fanfare for those with a predilection for alchemy, adventure, and a little anarchy.

READ REVIEW

THE QUEST TO THE UNCHARTED LANDS

Well-behaved girls seldom make history…or save ill-fated airships from menacing saboteurs.

Stella Glass won’t stand for being left at home while her healer parents embark on an exploratory voyage via airship to the uncharted lands. So, like any forward-thinking, industrious, stubborn trailblazer, she stows herself away in the ship’s hull. It isn’t long before she realizes she’s not the only one camping among the cargo. Cyrus, with whom she immediately butts heads, claims he is there to ensure the ship’s safe travel, but Stella isn’t convinced. It isn’t until a faceless (in actuality, face-changing) man nearly kills them both—and crashes the ship—that Stella realizes just how much Cyrus and his mysterious powers of protection are needed (and how much she digs him). While The Secrets of Solace (2016) was a respite from the hearty steampunk aesthetic of The Mark of the Dragonfly (2014), the metallic, gear-shifting flavor returns in this third book set in Solace. Without much delving into cultural identifiers, Stella and Cyrus occupy the white default in this fantasy world of quasi-humans, face-shifters, telepathic species, and a winged reptilian race. With a pace that doesn’t let up, the combustible action is interwoven with the need to decipher what is exploration and what is invasion: does anyone ever really come in peace? Hopefully.

A full-throttle fanfare for those with a predilection for alchemy, adventure, and a little anarchy. (map, glossary) (Steampunk. 11-15)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93312-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure

THE GOOD THIEVES

A Prohibition-era child enlists a gifted pickpocket and a pair of budding circus performers in a clever ruse to save her ancestral home from being stolen by developers.

Rundell sets her iron-jawed protagonist on a seemingly impossible quest: to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle from which her grieving grandfather has been abruptly evicted by unscrupulous con man Victor Sorrotore and recover a fabulously valuable hidden emerald. Laying out an elaborate scheme in a notebook that itself turns out to be an integral part of the ensuing caper, Vita, only slowed by a bout with polio years before, enlists a team of helpers. Silk, a light-fingered orphan, aspiring aerialist Samuel Kawadza, and Arkady, a Russian lad with a remarkable affinity for and with animals, all join her in a series of expeditions, mostly nocturnal, through and under Manhattan. The city never comes to life the way the human characters do (Vita, for instance, “had six kinds of smile, and five of them were real”) but often does have a tangible presence, and notwithstanding Vita’s encounter with a (rather anachronistically styled) “Latina” librarian, period attitudes toward race and class are convincingly drawn. Vita, Silk, and Arkady all present white; Samuel, a Shona immigrant from Southern Rhodesia, is the only primary character of color. Santoso’s vignettes of, mostly, animals and small items add occasional visual grace notes.

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure . (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1948-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more