A good balance between dark action and emotional costs.


From the Last Apprentice series , Vol. 9

This installment deviates from The Last Apprentice's usual formula, following witch assassin Grimalkin instead of Spook's apprentice Thomas Ward after the events of Rage of the Fallen (2011).

The Fiend has been bound but not killed, so his servants seek to restore him. To prevent this, Grimalkin took his decapitated head with her—it must be reunited with the bound body for the Fiend to rise again. Narrated by Grimalkin rather than presented as Tom's writing, the story is in present tense. The immediacy ratchets up tension as increasing numbers of powerful dark servants pursue Grimalkin. Although the legendary witch assassin is among the best killers to ever have lived, she is endangered by a kretch, a she-wolf/demon hybrid created by dark-magic users specifically to kill her. Forced to seek help, stubbornly self-reliant Grimalkin leaves a path of violent devastation among her allies wherever she goes, making painful sacrifices to thwart the Fiend while Tom seeks ways to kill him. The narration and short, free-verse poems at the beginning of each chapter give a complex look into Grimalkin's peculiar thought processes, and her history is unveiled through the personal stories her protégé enjoys hearing time and again. While her voice differs greatly from the familiar Tom's, the closer look makes her all the more intriguing.

A good balance between dark action and emotional costs. (Fantasy. 11-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-208207-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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