From the Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal series , Vol. 1

Fans of this first installment will be glad of the movie while waiting for the book’s sequel

A young Gelfling girl discovers hidden evils in this prequel to Jim Henson’s 1982 film The Dark Crystal.

Naia, training to become the matriarch of her clan, has never ventured beyond her swamp home. When her brother’s accused of being a traitor to the Skeksis Lords—creatures entrusted with the care of the life-giving crystal that runs through the world—Naia’s mother sends Naia and her father to stand in his stead. But her father and their escort are (conveniently) harmed, and Naia must travel on alone. On her journey, described in rich prose that paints a vivid picture, including the physical differences among the diverse Gelfling races, Naia discovers all is not well—worst of all, the crystal vein has taken on an amethyst hue, spreading corruption. While Naia and Kylan, a storyteller who becomes her travel partner and friend, are both likable and fallible, the Skeksis all seem interchangeable: disappointingly one-dimensional, gluttonous, and unmannerly. The book ends in a sequel setup. The many new words and concepts in this intricate fantasy world can be overwhelming, though much can be gleaned through context. And while the plot and characters are rather basic, the intriguing world and lush, descriptive, often even flowery prose make up for some of what’s lacking. Godbey’s occasional black-and-white illustrations add atmosphere.

Fans of this first installment will be glad of the movie while waiting for the book’s sequel . (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48289-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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