TOUCH OF FROST

From the Mythos Academy series , Vol. 1

In this series opener, Estep adapts Greek and Norse mythology to encompass contemporary teenage warriors training to duke out ancient rivalries. 

Gwen Frost’s psychometry leaves her little in common with magically gifted Valkyrie, Spartan and Amazon students at Mythos Academy. When she survives a crime that renders a classmate dead in a pool of blood, she resolves to uncover the murderer, whom administrators readily conclude is an enemy serving an evil god seeking world domination. On a hunt for clues, Gwen demonstrates an aptitude for breaking and entering, blackmail and espionage, and leverages her gift of touch to descry secrets. Despite ingenious worldbuilding, Estep follows many common conventions: Gwen’s mother has recently died, and Gwen is the poor girl among rich kids at a new school where she hides in corners. Her blanching at nude statues or using overly childish aphorisms feels incongruous, given Gwen's casual attitude about the sex lives and illicit party habits of her peers; however, Gwen earns teen cred when she befriends a popular girl and asks out her crush. Fortune wildly favors her in some close calls with undecipherable foes, and, again following a popular paradigm, Gwen conveniently learns of her unique legacy at the very moment when she bravely steps into the big shoes her predecessors have left her. 

Fast-paced, edgy and imaginative enough. (Urban fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7582-6692-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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