Readers of this multifaceted, well-crafted tale will eagerly await Sage’s further adventures.

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THE FALSE PRINCE

From the Ascendance Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A brazen 15-year-old orphan living in the imaginary kingdom of Carthya becomes embroiled in a treasonous power-play to install a false prince on the vacant throne.

For years, Sage has survived by lying and stealing in Mrs. Turbeldy’s Orphanage for Disadvantaged Boys. When scheming Bevin Connor removes him, Sage assumes he will serve Connor, but he quickly discovers he’s one of four orphan boys chosen by Connor for a more dangerous game. Connor plans to secretly transform them into gentlemen and select one to impersonate Prince Jaron, who is missing and presumed dead. Carthya’s current king, queen and crown prince have been murdered, and war could erupt at any moment. When the regents meet in two weeks, Connor plans to produce long-lost "Prince Jaron," who will rule as his pawn. Competition becomes fierce as the boys realize the one chosen to play Jaron will be the only survivor. Sage’s disdain, defiance and reckless arrogance mark him for failure, but his boldness, instinct and innate decency indicate there’s more than meets the eye. Could Sage become Prince Jaron? Sage reveals his story in the first person in slowly unfolding layers guaranteed to shock. Ruthless ambition, fierce action and plotting, complex characters and lots of sword play and hidden passages keep pages flipping.

Readers of this multifaceted, well-crafted tale will eagerly await Sage’s further adventures. (map) (Adventure. 8-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-28413-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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