In the plodding Go Saddle the Sea (1977), 13-year-old orphan Felix (half Spanish, half English) picaresqued his way from Spain to 1820s England in search of long-lost relatives. Now, in an even less spirited sequel, Felix—on his way home to his Spanish grandfather—is shipwrecked off the French coast: after seeing some sort of vision, he lapses into a coma, waking up with partial amnesia in a monastery on the island of St. Just de Seignanx. Some of the monks are kindly; but the abbot, Father Vespasian, interrogates Felix sharply, subjects him to flogging. . . and has demonic fire in his eyes (as well as strange healing powers). Then Felix acquires an irascible ally: just as predicted in his vision, he sees a boy hanging in a tree and saves his life. And this turns out to be 13-year-old Juan, a Basque lad on the mn from brigands and family enemies. So, despite Juan's surliness, the two boys escape from Father V. and start picaresquing toward Juan's home in Pamplona. ("I could see clearly that this was what God had in mind for me to do," notes ever-noble narrator Felix.) There are local rituals to observe, strange animals and people to gawk at, and assorted vaillains to flee from—including the shape-changing Father V., who is indeed a Satanic creature. But eventually, after an exorcism showdown, each of the lads gets home—and there's a final revelation (totally implausible) to explain why Felix and Juna were such incompatible, if devoted, travel-companions. Murky demonism, inadequate action, wordy narration: only for readers with an uncritical addiction to period adventures.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1983

ISBN: 0152060588

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.


Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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An accomplished, exciting debut.


A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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