Far from the typical Civil War romance.

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THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR

The author of Strands of Bronze and Gold (2013) returns to both Mississippi and fairy-tale retellings in this Civil War version of “Tam Lin.”

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has recently lost her twin brother to battle. Despite the war, she feels a sisterly connection with Laney, a slave who grew up alongside them. Perhaps that’s why Violet feels compelled to assist Amenze VanZeldt, a free black girl, while shopping in town. The act begins an apprehensive relationship with these Africans, who practice the conjuring spirituality of hoodoo (as opposed to the religious practice of voodoo). In this atmospheric story in which darkness houses mysteries, the VanZeldts seem to glide like shadows rather than walk as humans. Fateful events keep Violet and the eerie family connected, most notably the discovery of a wounded Union soldier. As a secret romance evolves between Violet and this Yankee who makes her question slavery, the VanZeldts furtively heal him. Tension builds as their reasons for keeping the soldier alive become clearer. With rich imagery and imaginative subplots driving the storyline, the loose “Tam Lin” connection doesn’t really arrive until the end. The author is careful not to generalize all African-Americans, offering a wide variety of characters—black and white. With an inexplicable magic of her own, the ever-resilient Violet is a force against the VanZeldts’ deadly rituals.

Far from the typical Civil War romance. (Historical fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75286-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

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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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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