Satisfying, but start with the first book.

ANASTASIA FOREVER

The trilogy that began with Dreaming Anastasia (2009) comes to an exciting, if cluttered, conclusion.

Magic and time travel back to Czarist Russia dominate the narrative as Anne and her century-old yet still age-18 heartthrob Ethan try to outwit their nemesis Viktor, who somehow has become immortal again. This series conclusion will make little sense to those who have not read the first two books, as everything depends upon knowledge of previous events. The time-travel segments stand out as the most interesting in the story, especially the trip to the Alexander Palace and the meeting with 10-year-old Princess Anastasia. Anne’s parents become involved when her rusalka (Russian mermaid) grandmother shows up in the backyard sprinkler. Baba Yaga flies through the skies in a giant mortar and pestle, dispensing danger and advice. Ethan and Anne (mostly) share the narration, but readers will need to pay attention to which one is speaking, as their voices come across as nearly identical. They’re a fairly standard-issue romantic pair, despite their exotic abilities. Viktor and Baba Yaga are more distinct and much more entertaining, as is Anne’s friend Tess, who provides some comic relief. Although the various plot threads eventually tie themselves neatly together, they resemble a Gordian knot before that happens.

Satisfying, but start with the first book. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6875-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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

THE CRUEL PRINCE

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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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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