High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace...

BURIED HEART

From the Court of Fives series , Vol. 3

As infighting grips Efea’s Saroese royalty, its neighbors move to invade their weakened adversary; unable to dissuade her Patron father and sweetheart Kal from defending the corrupt regime, Jes sides with her mother’s people, native Efeans now reclaiming their land.

The rift between her parents has widened, but both disapprove of Jes’ relationship with Kal, and their fears are heightened when he reluctantly takes the throne. In this rigid ethnocracy, biracial Jes is considered a “mule” by contemptuous Patrons, a traitor by resentful Commoners. Kal’s go-slow plans to raise Commoner standing anger Jes—she knows it’s too late for small steps. Leaving Kal, she’s kidnapped, badly injured, and sent to the desert, where Efeans and criminals of both castes mine ore under brutal conditions. Plotting their escape keeps her alive. Their Saroese overlords won’t voluntarily abandon caste and privilege; to reclaim their decentralized, matriarchal society, Efeans must fight. Gifted with her mother’s patience and father’s military prowess, Jes proves an exceptional leader. Sustaining the Patron aristocracy exacts a high price—but so do the sacrifice and compromises required to overthrow it. Magic and religion, patriarchy versus matriarchy, hierarchical versus decentralized government; these themes are all seamlessly integrated into the action-packed plot.

High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace the threads of history from past to present and explore the fascinating patterns they weave. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-34441-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2017

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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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