Beaucoup magic and entertainment with just the right amount of educational value.

READ REVIEW

Divide et Impera

From the Magicae Mathematica series , Vol. 3

This third installment of a middle-grade fantasy series finds a girl and a city threatened by a wizard wielding a powerful and potentially deadly weapon.

Alex is a young girl who was mysteriously transported to a world where Latin and mathematics are combined to generate magic. With her mentor Archimedes in prison, she’s hiding in the wilderness outside the city, especially because fiendish Master Wizards Diades and Demetrius are looking for her. Though Alex is skilled at magic, Archimedes believes she’s the “missing variable,” with the ability to solve this world’s problems. Alex eventually meets winged Daedalus, who takes her to the Iron Mountains, where former advisers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle have isolated themselves following accusations of poisoning the king. Unfortunately, Alex’s calculator is in the hands of Diades, and its mathematical capability makes the device inherently dangerous. Indeed, the wizard uses it to create a disaster that leaves the city in ruins and many of the inhabitants dead. Survivors form a party for an arduous trek through the woods to the Iron Mountains. There, they hope to reunite with Alex and make their way to the Master Wizards’ black castle to retrieve the device. Alex, meanwhile, under the assumption that all of her pals in the city have perished, concocts a similar plan. As in the previous novels, West’s (Circulus de Potentia, 2016, etc.) blending of Latin and math serves the story well, enhancing rather than sidelining the main plot. Diades, for example, torments his captive, Pythagoras, by using the device to calculate the number of people who’ve died in the tragedy. Latin phrases are most often conveniently translated (for example, by characters who’ve uttered them) and are sometimes profound on their own: “dum spiro, spero. While I breathe, I hope.” West adds his own effervescent descriptions as well (“the monster brought the blackness like an oily cloud that spread over everything hungrily”). Supporting characters stand out, including deaf Maya, a worthy counterpart to her blind brother, Mada, while others face hazards such as wolves and a blizzard. There’s no resolution or climax in sight, but the ending should definitely have readers keeping eyes out for the fourth volume.

Beaucoup magic and entertainment with just the right amount of educational value.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5368-6202-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more