THE YOUNG INFERNO

“In the middle of my childhood wonder / I woke to find myself in a forest / that was—how shall I put it—wild and sombre.” Using Dante’s Inferno as his model, Agard sends a teenage narrator on a tour of Hell, squired by a fable-spouting Aesop rather than Virgil and encountering not only Charon, Mammon and their traditional like but Einstein and the Furies, here pictured as a street gang. Despite Kitamura’s jagged, smudgy black-and-white figures (some of which will be recognizable to contemporary readers), the trek never acquires much emotional or poetic intensity as, unlike Dante, the author seldom names names, finishes up in an abbreviated 13 Cantos and skips over any mention of Lucifer. He also closes by having the narrator hook up with Beatrice (billed by Aesop with a wink as “The Good Fairy”) in the library: “I danced in the chemistry of her eyes / and I could have chilled out there for ever.” Steer readers who can’t face the original to Marcus Sanders and Sandow Birk’s weirdly campy but grand illustrated rendition, Dante’s Divine Comedy (2004). (Poetry. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84507-769-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

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

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 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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