Despite possessing every cliché in the genre, an elegantly addictive read.


From the Kingdom on Fire series , Vol. 1

The only thing more terrifying than being proclaimed the chosen one is secretly knowing you aren’t.

Of the three orders of magic practiced in this alternative Victorian Britain, only sorcery is legal—and it’s exclusively male. Fearing execution for witchcraft, 16-year-old Henrietta Howel has worked to hide her fiery powers, so she’s astonished to be hailed as the fulfillment of prophecy, the first female sorcerer in centuries. Whisked off to London, surrounded by luxury (and handsome young sorcerers-in-training), Henrietta fights to master magic and protect her dearest childhood friend, knowing that she’ll forfeit everything should her secrets be revealed. Every plot beat and character note here is utterly familiar; even the “subverted” tropes are upended in predictable ways. Henrietta is a stereotypical girl fantasy protagonist: uniquely gifted, haunted by childhood abuse, sympathetic to outcasts, “unfeminine” in her interests, believing herself unlovable even while adored by everyone except spiteful (and misogynistic) villains....Still, originality isn’t the only literary virtue, and Cluess deploys every timeworn device with stylish aplomb. Her gaslit world besieged by Lovecraft-ian horrors possesses vivid life, and if Henrietta’s hunky harem is populated by stock characters, their friendship still rings true. Despite frequent allusions to Henrietta’s “dark complexion” from her Welsh heritage, the characters are clearly all white, save the black, outlaw magician she befriends; even with the looming romantic polygon, hints abound that this world isn’t entirely heterosexual.

Despite possessing every cliché in the genre, an elegantly addictive read. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53590-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.


The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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