A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse.

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STONE MIRRORS

THE SCULPTURE AND SILENCE OF EDMONIA LEWIS

Edmonia Lewis was a noted African-American sculptor whose career begins in this verse novel set in the late 1800s.

Edmonia, who is of African-Haitian and Ojibwe descent, is attending the newly racially integrated Oberlin College in 1862. The story opens immediately with a secret romance that barely has a chance to blossom, as a startling scandal arises when Edmonia is accused of the attempted murder of two white female students she had befriended. Though she is acquitted, Edmonia’s character is permanently scarred by the event, and she is forced to leave Oberlin before graduating. Fate connects Edmonia to mentoring from accomplished sculptors, which leads her to travel to Rome, a place where she flourishes to become an internationally known sculptor. From sparse historical records, Atkins creates a memorable, poetic tale that offers a fictional account of what life may have been like for Edmonia, backgrounding this with solid research into the era. Stories of doomed love, in particular the biblical tale of Hagar, act as thematic touchstones, and her determination to sculpt Cleopatra forms the story’s spine. Atkins’ compressed verse evokes both the racial realities of the time, including violence, and the artistic process: “Art is made of questions and craft. / What she doesn’t know shapes her work / along with the hope that someone believes / in her.” Atkins describes her process in an author’s note.

A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse. (bibliography) (Verse historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5905-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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