SATURNALIA

Fleischman, 1989 Newbery poetry winner, returns with historical fiction about masters and servants in 17th-century Boston. Kindly Mr. Currie, a printer, celebrates the winter solstice with an innocent day of role reversal: he and his wife serve their apprentices and their six children a feast; in the tradition of the ancient Saturnalia, wine flows and merriment prevails. But for many of their neighbors, the darker side of the season, resonant with the bitter legacy of King Philip's War six years earlier, is paramount. In carefully composed vignettes, Fleischman portrays the denizens of the night—a woodcarver who links his daughter's death to a haunting memory of massacring Indians; Stalking Rudd, a vicious eyeglass-maker, the terror of his apprentices; a mysterious lurker in the shadows; the night-watch. By contrast, a buffoon of a wigmaker and his conniving servant play their slapstick roles by day. In both worlds is William, Currie's Indian apprentice, who ranges abroad at night seeking the family from which he was brutally separated by the war; who is the obvious scapegoat when Rudd comes to a mysterious violent end; and who finally draws together the story's disparate strands in a choice he makes. Like Leon Garfield, Fleischman brings the past to life with pungent descriptions, incisive portraits, and robust humor. He observes his dark drama with a compassionate modern conscience and relates it with a storyteller's sense of audience and a poet's precision. A fine achievement.

Pub Date: April 10, 1990

ISBN: 006447089X

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1990

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Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate.

ALL WE HAVE LEFT

This election cycle, with its exacerbated Islamophobia, makes author Mills' (Positively Beautiful, 2015) fictive meditation on 9/11 and the 15 years after especially timely.

The book opens with Travis McLaurin, a 19-year-old white man trying to protect Alia Susanto, a 16-year-old hijab-wearing Indonesian-American Muslim, from the debris caused by the South Tower's destruction. The next chapter takes place 15 years later, with Travis' younger sister, Jesse, defacing a building with an Islamophobic slogan before the police catch her. The building, readers learn later, is the Islam Peace Center, where Jesse must do her community service for her crime. Between these plot points, the author elegantly transitions between the gripping descriptions of Alia and Travis trying to survive and Jesse almost falling into the abyss of generational hatred of Islam. In doing so, she artfully educates readers on both the aspects of Islam used as hateful stereotypes and the ruinous effects of Islamophobia. With almost poetic language, the author compassionately renders both the realistic lives, loves, passions, and struggles of Alia ("There's a galaxy between us, hung thick with stars of hurt and disappointment) and Jesse ("I'm caught in a tornado filled with the jagged pieces of my life") as both deal with the fallout of that tragic day.

Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate. (timeline, author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-343-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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

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