Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love.

THE FORBIDDEN WISH

A Middle East–inspired fantasy version of “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.”

Jinni Zahra, long imprisoned in her lamp, has languished for hundreds of years in a dead city as punishment for a mysterious transgression against her kind, one that also resulted in the betrayal of the warrior queen who last held the lamp, whom Zahra still mourns with the term of endearment “Habiba.” A young thief guided by a magic ring finds the city and lamp, freeing her. Other jinn quickly offer her a bargain from their ruler: he will free her from the lamp if she rescues his son, imprisoned in Aladdin’s home city—a deal with a strict time limit. Zahra uses Aladdin’s desire for vengeance against the drug-addled king’s brother—the sadistic power behind the throne—for his revolutionary parents’ deaths and the ill treatment of the peasantry. Aladdin’s audacious and bold but unable to kill, so Zahra offers an alternative revenge: he will seduce and marry the crown princess, become king, and expel his enemies—bringing them to the palace and supporting her mission. But iron-willed Caspida is no typical princess, and Zahra’s feelings for Aladdin steadily grow—despite the taboo against jinni-human love that destroyed her Habiba. Khoury allows Zahra to narrate in the first person, placing her in a distinct fantasy world that draws on Middle Eastern tropes but is no cognate of real-world geography. Though the dynamic ending fully concludes their story, readers will likely long for more stories—say, 1,000 of them.

Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-767-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

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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