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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A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.

THE WICKED KING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 2

A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).

Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31035-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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