Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn...

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DRAGONSWOOD

A dark fantasy illuminated by piercing flashes of hope builds upon the well-received Dragon’s Keep (2007), while standing complete on its own.

Tess has known little in her 17 years but brutality, grief and fear: the angry fists of her blacksmith father, the infant graves of her siblings and the ominous prophetic visions she sees in flames. As Wilde Island teeters toward political collapse and a vicious witch-hunter sets her sights on Tess, she and her friends flee into Dragonswood, the forbidden abode of dragons and the fey folk. Even as they find refuge with a secretive woodward, the fairies keep calling to Tess… as if they had a duty only she could fulfill. Despite the romantic cover and lush, poetic prose, this is no adventure for the squeamish. Tess does not shy away from graphic descriptions of beatings, torture and grisly violence—and subtler betrayals, manipulation and callous disregard—that leave her scarred in body and soul. Yet for all her mistrust, self-loathing and cringing expectation of blows, Tess reveals a surprising strength and unflinching loyalty. While she does not extend an unrealistic forgiveness, she finds the courage to work with her abusers towards a greater goal; her tentative, hesitant love for the one person who treats her with kindness and respect is both touching and achingly bittersweet.

Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn for happily ever after. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3504-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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