One part nihilist political commentary, one part grimly modernist retelling, for readers willing to see Jesus in a...

TEMPLE BOYS

A sneaky beggar child enters the circle of Yeshua of Gilgal in the six days surrounding the crucifixion.

Flea is a filthy, ignorant street child in the Holy City, the most bullied and ostracized member of a gang calling itself the Temple Boys. The new magician riding into the city on a donkey is just one more excuse for the rest of the Temple Boys to abuse and abandon Flea, but the magician's best friend, Jude, enlists Flea for a mission of his own. Jude wants to protect his friend and prevent the anti-Roman, anti-Temple political movement from turning into a bloodbath, but Flea only wants food, warmth and a little respect. Though he admires Yeshua's sleight of hand and cunning, Flea doesn't understand why Yesh seems sanguine about his own potential death. Readers with knowledge of the Gospels will catch the many sideways references and thinly disguised names: Yesh's brother is named Yak; Shim denies Yesh; Yesh buries old Laz alive; Jude reminisces about that time they "smuggled the booze into that boring wedding...in a water jug." These readers need to be prepared to read about Jesus as a lying con man who's a master of confidence games and is willing to use children as human shields. The ideal reader of this existentialist retelling is likely substantially older than naïve-if-bitter young Flea.

One part nihilist political commentary, one part grimly modernist retelling, for readers willing to see Jesus in a distinctly unholy light . (Historical fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-036-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies.

FURYBORN

From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Two girls separated by a thousand years are connected by a prophecy.

In a prologue, readers learn that pale-skinned Queen Rielle has killed her husband, the biracial Audric. She gives birth to their baby while a war between angels and humans rages. To keep the infant safe from the angels’ leader, light-skinned Corien, Rielle desperately charges a child with magical abilities to use his gifts to flee with and protect her—with mixed success. Later chapters alternate between telling Rielle’s story and flashing forward 1,020 years to focus on olive-skinned Eliana. Following a childhood tragedy, Rielle hid her staggering ability to control all seven elements until a threat against her beloved Audric caused her to reveal her gifts, prompting the Magisterial Council to impose seven trials to determine whether she was the Sun Queen or Blood Queen spoken of in prophecy. While readers start off knowing her story’s end, a steamy romance and devious twists along the way pack surprises. Eliana, meanwhile, is a deadly bounty hunter—serving an evil empire in order to protect her own family—who gets mixed up with rebels when her mother is abducted. The rigid, cliffhanger-heavy chapter structure is supported by breakneck pacing and constant action. The ending leaves neither storyline resolved.

High stakes, epic scope, intense action, and sweeping mythologies. (element guide) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5662-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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