Insubstantial far-future adult fantasy, and first of a series, from well-known YA author Yolen. In the distant future, groups of women have banded together in self-sufficient, fort-like "hames" whose populations are maintained by adoption. Here, girls train to be farmers, cooks, medics, warriors, etc., and, under the guidance of the White Goddess ("Mother Alta"), practice moon-magic: chiefly, the conjuring of dark sister-twins from special mirrors (the dark twins materialize only in moonlight or torchlight). A certain ancient prophecy concerns the Anna, a sort of avatar who is destined to destroy the existing society and usher in a new. Young Jenna, who—unusually—has long white hair, shows signs of being the one prophesied, but the harsh old priestess of Selden Hame will have none of it. Jenna and her friend Pynt journey to another hame as part of their coming-of-age rituals; on the way they rescue Carum (a prince, as it later turns out) from vile death at the hands of Barnoo the Hound, one of ambitious Lord Karas' monstrous bruisers. They seek refuge at Nill's Hame, but soon, as Jenna and Carum flee, the hame is attacked and destroyed. The dark twin idea is unusual, yet Yolen does nothing with it. As for the rest: thin and creaky as an old wagon wheel, it just about rolls along.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1988

ISBN: 0765367564

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1988


Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

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This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020



Any moral that may be gleaned from the tangled narrative is buried in confusion. (Fantasy. YA)

A convoluted fantasy offering a series of morals about justice, mercy, human treatment of animals and human treatment of other humans.

A cluster of animals have been educated by a World War II veteran and his activist wife. The animals, a now-vegetarian mix of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, live in harmony on Cloudburst Mountain. Following their scriptures (the Bible, Animal Farm and judgments such as “Humans Are Evil”), they plan for the day when they will kill all the humans and rule the world. The tale follows the adventures of their coyote prophet Justice and human ally Cody as they travel the United States preparing other animals for “The Rebellion.” Though they meet mostly repellent, violent humans and mistreated animals, they also encounter enough well-meaning, victimized humans to make Cody question his alliance with the cause of human genocide. Meanwhile, the grandson of the original human missionaries to the animals threatens the entire endeavor as he plans to mine the mountain for uranium. Ultimately, the animals succeed in murdering the vast majority of the human race, giving them hope for a shining new day. This overly complex tale is dense with purple prose and far too many extraneous characters–for example, Gordon “Raindance” Fell, the Shadow Shaman of the Pokihallah tribe; and Forest Victor, who appears for the first time late in the story, saying of his never-mentioned-before dead wife, “if only her hatred of the evil deeds of the baby seal killers hadn’t drawn her and her cameras into a combative stance.”

Any moral that may be gleaned from the tangled narrative is buried in confusion. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: June 21, 2006

ISBN: 0-595-39274-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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