From the Permafrost series , Vol. 2

A young woman goes to Hel and back to stop Ragnarök in this sequel to White Stag (2019).

Having survived the Hunt, goblin Soren rules as Erlking while once-human Janneke grapples with her role as the stag. Once master and servant, now lovers, both are struggling to take on their new responsibilities and overcome their many, many traumas. Raised as a male heir in a vaguely Viking-ish era and held as a Permafrost realm prisoner for 100 years, dark-skinned, green-eyed Janneke is as lethal as her former captors, the goblins, but capable of emotion. Now an untrained magic-user and unwilling recipient of apocalyptic visions, Janneke is also haunted by her abuser, Lydian…“literally,” as the characters would (and repeatedly, gratingly) say. Attempting to use—then exorcise—the liminal Lydian, Janneke and a small circle of trusted goblins dive deep into the Norse underworld. Unwaveringly, perhaps unbelievably, supportive Soren is pale and bluish-skinned, white-haired, and lilac-eyed—for goblins, read prettified Celtic elves or Scandinavian trolls, per the novel’s loose basis on and reinterpretation of traditional mythology. The setting, tone, and language are inconsistent and unclear, with the pre-industrial trappings repeatedly clashing with the innumerable, jarringly modern turns of phrase and copious profanities. Barbieri prominently features issues of abuse, disability, eating disorders, self-harm, and gender, but the quality of the writing does not support sensitive and nuanced exploration of these subjects.

An unpolished read. (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24760-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title.


From the These Violent Delights series , Vol. 2

New monsters terrorize Shanghai amid political upheaval and the reignition of the blood feud between the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers.

The death of Marshall Seo unleashed a new wave of violence, but when a mysterious figure wielding control over more deadly-insect–releasing monsters begins extorting money from both gangs, their leaders agree to temporarily cooperate in the interests of eliminating a mutual foe. They order their respective heirs to find the blackmailer, and so, once again, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai must work together for the benefit of those under their protection. But their feelings for each other—complicated by hidden truths, lingering love, and unforgiving duty—prove difficult to repress. Meanwhile, the time of revolution draws near: Workers continue to organize protests decrying both foreign occupation and gangster rule as the Nationalist Army marches toward Shanghai in its campaign to unite and reclaim the country. Secrets abound and loyalties are tested in this tightly plotted sequel featuring a multinational cast and told through multiple third-person perspectives, including those of supporting characters introduced in These Violent Delights (2020). Stubborn Rosalind, obliging Kathleen, and grief-stricken Benedikt all return to play vital roles that blend seamlessly into Roma’s and Juliette’s storylines as they each are forced to consider what it is they truly want and the lengths they will go to protect it.

Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-45772-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.


From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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