Diverting.

READ REVIEW

INTO THE HEARTLESS WOOD

In Tarian, a magical forest fights the kings’ railroads and telegraphs, and a young man is caught in the crossfire.

Owen, 17, raises his sister and keeps house by day while maintaining star charts for the king by night. Across the wall that edges his garden, the Gwydden, the power in the woods who has turned eight birches into her humanoid tree-siren daughters, steals souls and has her daughters kill in scenes reminiscent of a literary horror novel. Owen’s present-tense, first-person narration alternates with the jagged, vaguely poetic narration of Seren, the Gwydden’s youngest daughter, who no longer wants to kill for her mother. Centered on the relationship between Owen and the tree siren, this is a story with limited space for secondary characters, although an intriguing background mythos reveals itself through Owen’s and Seren’s stories. The emphasis on souls—evil feeds on them, the tree siren longs for one, and their importance, along with hearts, anchors much of the magic—lends a Christian moral code to an otherwise firmly fantastical setting that has a Welsh flavor. Familiar motifs, such as wilderness versus technology, a witch versus a king, and star-crossed lovers, placed in unfamiliar settings ensure that this dark romantic fantasy fulfills expectations without becoming formulaic. Owen is White in a world with some racial diversity and no prejudice.

Diverting. (Romantic fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64567-170-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls.

THUNDERHEAD

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 2

Death proves impermanent in this sequel to Scythe (2016).

In a world run by the (almost) all-powerful and (almost) omniscient artificial intelligence Thunderhead, only the Honorable Scythes deal permanent death to near-immortal humans. Yet a growing contingent of scythes, feared and flattered by society and operating outside the Thunderhead’s control, are proving rather dishonorable. No longer apprentices, 18-year-olds Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch realize “the scythedom is…high school with murder” as they watch their fellow scythes jockey for power and prestige. Citra now gleans as Scythe Anastasia, questioning the status quo but also opposing the homicidally enthusiastic “new-order” scythes and their dangerous demagogue. Self-appointed as Scythe Lucifer, Rowan hunts other scythes whom he deems corrupt. Meanwhile, the existentially troubled Thunderhead questions its role as both creation and caretaker of humanity, sworn not to take life but fearing that its utopia will otherwise collapse into dystopia. Nationality and race are minimally mentioned—ethnic biases and genocide are considered very gauche—yet a population that defies death, aging, sickness, poverty, and war risks becoming bleakly homogenous, alleviated only by “unsavories” and scythes. This sequel digs deeper into Shusterman’s complex world and complicated characters, offering political maneuvering, fatal conspiracies, and impending catastrophe via a slowly unfurling plot and startling bursts of action.

Fear the reaper(s)…but relish this intelligent and entertaining blend of dark humor and high death tolls. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7245-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more