Anyone who enjoyed the first title will adore this sequel and be on tenterhooks for the next.

A POISON DARK AND DROWNING

From the Kingdom on Fire series , Vol. 2

Alternative-Victorian magical intrigue, monstrous Lovecraft-ian abominations, and torrid romantic entanglements all intensify in the second of an enthralling fantasy series following A Shadow Bright and Burning (2016).

Henrietta Howel—sick of pretending to be the prophesied “savior” and panicked by her childhood love’s transformation into a shadow of the Seven Ancients—convinces her sorcerer friends to adopt the weapons of the outlawed magicians and even persuades a witch-in-hiding to employ her illegal craft. But none of Henrietta’s secrets or lies proves as devastating as those buried in her own past. Middle books are notoriously tricky, but Cluess executes every beat with panache. The overarching narrative of the sorcerers’ war advances apace, as momentary triumph unravels into complications, setbacks, betrayals, and disasters. The world remains default white and straight, but it contains hints of racial diversity among the magicians along with a gay relationship. The divisions and entanglements among the three branches of magic are further explored, and the deliciously horrific Ancients unfurl ever more grotesque maleficence. Secondary characters introduced mostly to help, thwart, or admire Henrietta begin to develop their own storylines, while Henrietta learns how heavily the price of her impulsiveness and deceit falls upon innocents. And although the romantic polygon centered on Henrietta is superficially resolved, this only ratchets up the underlying tensions.

Anyone who enjoyed the first title will adore this sequel and be on tenterhooks for the next. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-53594-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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