This engaging epic fantasy makes effective use of the tension built up in previous volumes.

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STRANGE WORLDS

In this fourth installment of a YA series, a group of heroes confronts the Wild King.

In Tir na nÓg, the Faery Realm, the Wild King hosts his army in the Dead City. With a mark from his antlers, the monarch can mutate fae beings, turning them savage and loyal. One person in the Dead City not directly affected by the Wild King’s magic is Feya. She uses her healing skills to help fae, like Ivy, who suffer from painful mutations. Elise, meanwhile, is a Seer from the Mortal Realm who’s been recruited by Sirius, leader of the elves, to help end the Wild King’s reign. But the Summer Queen believes that the Wild King is “an elf who had glamoured himself to look like a monstrosity,” despite countless missing fae. Sirius plans to visit the Seelie Court to summon Galahad, the Golden Knight, to battle. Galahad is willing to commit soldiers to the cause only if Sirius can learn the Wild King’s exact location in the Dead City and the size of his army. As Galahad joins Sirius’ expedition, Elise hopes to clarify her feelings for Finch, a female elf. Finch, being pure of heart, wants Sirius to tell Elise “that you love her.” Ridge unleashes chaos on her beloved cast in this Faery Realm fantasy, ensuring that characters who have starred in other adventures, like Lark, Alexis, and Jaxith, make appearances. The battles feature grisly moments, as when a Wild fae, already impaled by one arrow, has a second “explode through its eye.” The author does balance the gore with humor, as when the heroes encounter a Wild fae with a duck’s bill. A solid backstory humanizes the Wild King and layers deeper emotions onto Feya’s arc. During the momentous final third of the narrative, Ridge uses Lark to set up a further adventure that may or may not fold in events from the finale. Though the cast is diverse, readers may need patience as characters shuffle tumultuously between the foreground and background, Game of Thrones–style.

This engaging epic fantasy makes effective use of the tension built up in previous volumes.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-359-90880-6

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Lulu.com

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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