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PROMISE OF SHADOWS

A dark, slyly funny read.

A reluctant Harpy discovers her destiny in an elaborate Greek-mythology–based fantasy.

As the book opens, readers learn that Zephyr’s sister, Whisper, was killed for her forbidden romance with Hermes; Harpies are vættir—partly human, therefore lesser—and are not permitted to intimately fraternize with full gods, called Æthereals. In retaliation, Zephyr killed Whisper’s Æthereal executioner—a supposedly impossible act—and has been sentenced to eternity in the worst part of the Underworld, Tartarus (where the weather is crappy—literally). Zephyr’s forbidden, dark power enabled the kill and, she learns, marks her as the prophesied Nyx, a champion of “shadow vættir,” who maintains balance and protects vættir from Æthereal tyranny. Knowing the Æthereals will surely kill her soon, Zephyr escapes Tartarus with the help of Cass, her enigmatic friend and protector (who everyone they meet says is a liar and betrayer), Tallon, an attractive childhood friend, and his brother, Blue. They form a ragtag team to keep her alive so she can thwart a terrible plot against the vættir. The romantic plot is the least successful element of this character-driven story. Far more compelling are Zephyr’s struggles to accept herself as a hero, considering she’s failed her Trials to become a Harpy warrior. The complicated worldbuilding piles on the jargon, but Zephyr’s narration hooks readers with snappy, hilarious one-liners.

A dark, slyly funny read. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4464-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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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