THE CROW RIDER

From the Storm Crow series , Vol. 2

Not a highflyer but fans will flock to it regardless.

The follow-up to the debut duology that began with The Storm Crow (2019).

The titular magical crows, large enough to ride, were once the cornerstone of Rhodaire’s power until they were all killed in the violent attack that launched the war and nearly destroyed Princess Thia. But now Thia has successfully hatched one of the few remaining crow eggs, fled evil queen Razel’s grip, and fought free of her own depression, leaving behind Razel’s son Prince Ericen, the enemy and fiance Thia can’t forget. Uneven pacing with a glacial opening eventually giving way to a rushed climax and some striking tonal shifts (especially scenes with the smirking, bantering Ericen) detract from notable original details, particularly the way mental health is deeply interwoven in the characters of Thia and her crow, Res. Thia must constantly grapple with the cost of violence, trying to choose mercy but finding it backfires on her, which conveniently propels significant plot movement. Overreliance on trite similes and centrally cast side characters, like the vaguely Asian Auma, who dispenses sage advice over steaming tea, are somewhat balanced by the generally diverse world, with named characters of varied skin tones and sexual orientations and gender identities (Thia is brown-skinned and straight).

Not a highflyer but fans will flock to it regardless. (map, guide to characters/setting) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7296-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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