An appealing debut for romance fans and readers willing to suspend disbelief.

THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART

For years, Leah has stolen out at night to the forest abutting her East Texas home to set out apples on a tree stump, then hide and watch three giant, hairy Bigfoot lumber out and consume her offering; this time, the visitors include a human boy.

Leah’s kept her trips secret from her dysfunctional, all-white family: authoritarian preacher dad, secret-tippler mom, and older brother Matt. Each has nursed corrosive secrets in the decade since Matt’s twin died in a horrific incident that also claimed the brother and father of Leah’s best friend, Ashley (all also white). Their losses are a forbidden topic. Why her parents then moved next to the forest puzzles Leah, banned from setting foot in it herself. Blonde Leah attracts romantic attention from Matt’s friend, but he’s no match for the enchanting, mysterious green-eyed, bronze-skinned forest boy who’s claimed Leah’s heart and is equally smitten. In secret encounters that include the smallest Sasquatch, their relationship deepens. Meanwhile, Leah’s parents head out nights, in camo hunting attire; excitement’s replaced their customary hostility. As convoluted paths converge, long-hidden truths are revealed. Related by Leah in the present tense, her discoveries—of the boy, the Sasquatch, and their forest world at night—are intense and authentic, resonating with heady excitement. More mundane plot developments and explanations tidy loose narrative threads but strain credulity. Paradoxically, the Tarzan-esque fantasy rings truest.

An appealing debut for romance fans and readers willing to suspend disbelief. (Romantic fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6351-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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