Adult novelist and scholarly author Davidson crafts a YA alternate-history/murder-mystery romp—and mostly pulls it off. In a world in which Napoleon won Waterloo, it’s 1939 and the Federated States of Europe and the New Hanseatic League have concluded one war but may be poised for another. Sixteen-year-old Sophie finds herself in the midst of political intrigue after a medium delivers a cryptic message and then turns up dead. The medium’s death is just the start: IRYLNS, founded by Sophie’s great-aunt and guardian, transforms girls into perfect secretaries via a sinister process; Sophie’s chemistry teacher may be masterminding suicide bombers; and spirits seem set on communication. The world-building sometimes falters and thinking too hard about the changes may confuse readers (how did Freud become a radio personality, and why is he fixated on Daedalus?), but despite the flaws, who can resist a spunky heroine, political machinations and a disembodied Alfred Nobel? Readers willing to dive in will be eager for the sequel. (author’s note) (Fantasy/alternate history. 13 & up)

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-123975-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008


From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021


A slow-moving but compelling tale of a queer Jewish boy battling antisemitism and the supernatural.

Young immigrant Alter Rosen lives in Chicago; it’s 1893, and the World’s Fair is in town.

Seventeen-year-old Alter longs to enjoy everything the White City has to offer him, but as a Romanian refugee in the United States, he feels it is his responsibility to earn enough money to bring his mother and his sisters over from Europe. Jewish people in the Russian empire have long been the targets and victims of government-sanctioned violence, and while life in the U.S. is still not ideal for Jews, it’s much safer. So, Alter tries his best to make an honest living and save his money. But when several Jewish boys from the tenements on Maxwell Street, where he has rented a room, end up missing or dead—including Alter’s own roommate and secret crush, Yakov—Alter knows he has to find out the truth about their fates. A highly detailed historical landscape paired with the fantastical element of the dybbuk from ancient Jewish folklore, one of whom possesses Alter, provide a solid base for the book’s leisurely paced and original narrative. Readers will become immersed in Alter’s world, rooting for his survival, hoping for his reunion with his family, and wishing for him to find the love that he deserves. An author’s note and glossary add valuable context. Main characters are White and Jewish.

A slow-moving but compelling tale of a queer Jewish boy battling antisemitism and the supernatural. (Historical thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-40250-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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