A gripping and fiercely moving tale with a rough magic all its own.

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Two restless teens discover a magical but dangerous paradise for delinquents in this YA fantasy novel.

Holliday Ringo O’Raff and the story’s initially unnamed narrator (later nicknamed “Bogart”) are both 14 and have been best friends for several years, having grown up in harsh circumstances in North Phoenix: “our insides were knives. We hungered for something intangible.” That something appears late one summer night when the friends happen upon a portal to another reality: Nowhere Park, a sort of Never-Never Land for punk kids with booze, drugs, skateboarding, and treehouses. After a bloody initiation, the boys discover that they have a gift for theft, and they become part of a gang, or “suit” in Nowhere Park, called the Bandits; other suits include the Brains, Bashers, and Creeps. Supernatural terrors are another facet of this new world, and Holliday and Bogart must face them when they’re targeted by the park’s new king—an ordeal that changes them forever. Samuelle, whose first novel was the magical-realist The Jovian Spark (2015), offers a compelling coming-of-age story like no other. The narrator’s voice is literary, even luminous, but also authentically hardscrabble; Holliday, for example, is described as having “a solid layer of tightly-wrapped sinew over bones made of used car parts and bad intentions.” The story embraces the boys’ outsider perspective as an honest stance in a corrupt world while unblinkingly revealing the park’s hardships, treacheries, and terrors—a world where the boys find purpose but also loss. Early on, Bogart sees his future as “full of scared nights and wild parties and near-deaths and blood oaths and broken windows and bad promises and maybe an early grave.” By the novel’s end, he glimpses other possibilities for himself, which would have been impossible if he hadn’t been shaped by his experience in Nowhere Park.

A gripping and fiercely moving tale with a rough magic all its own.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-6537-8668-6

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.


An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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