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A page-turner.

An immersive tale of unlikely allies coming together for a common enemy.

In Joseon dynasty Korea in 1506, 17-year-old Iseul has one goal: to find her older sister, Suyeon, and bring her home. Although they didn’t have the best relationship after the trauma of their parents’ execution by royal soldiers, Iseul bravely travels through forbidden territory. Her enemy is King Yeonsan, a vile man who abducts women, but after hearing of a serial killer—and the king’s obsession with finding him—Iseul decides that capturing the murderer could be the way to get her sister back. She’s not alone in her hatred for the king; his half brother, Prince Daehyun, is secretly plotting treason to stop Yeonsan’s reign of terror. Calling Daehyun his favorite brother, the king demands he carry out increasingly extreme acts of cruelty in order to prove his loyalty, but the prince is determined to not become a monster himself. After a fateful encounter with Daehyun, Iseul is left with even more disgust for the crown, but she doesn’t yet know the full story behind Daehyun’s intentions. With such a powerful shared enemy, the pair might find that becoming allies is the smartest way to achieve their objectives. Award-winner Hur’s latest historical intrigue is well researched and doesn’t shy away from depicting elements of this real king’s brutal history, and the resulting tale is immersive, intense, and engaging.

A page-turner. (author’s note with content warning, historical note) (Historical thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781250858092

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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