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An electrifying, high-stakes series opener grounded in feminist themes.

Opposing forces seek leverage in a world in which intrinsic magic, widely believed to have been eradicated, is traded in secret.

Long ago, women known as Fyrebirds wielded powerful, even deadly, magic. Accused of witchcraft and persecuted by the patriarchal church, the remaining Fyrebirds survived by concealing their abilities and marrying into the Great Houses, whose wealth and influence offered protection. Generations later, the Fyrebirds have passed into myth, while Nightbirds, their female descendants, are vessels for subtler abilities that they themselves cannot wield; instead, their abilities may be temporarily gifted to others through kisses. While the Great Houses continue to fiercely guard and regulate access to the Nightbirds’ identities and gifts, those who fear—or have tasted—the Nightbirds’ magic are determined to unmask them. Socialite Matilde has never questioned the system in which she participates; she enjoys having (and being) a rare secret. But soon after she’s joined by street-wise Sayer and country girl Æsa, two new Nightbirds, an attack in the Nightbirds’ inner sanctum sets the three girls on a different path, one with massive personal and political implications. Their present-tense narrative perspectives establish clear distinctions between them as they navigate and boldly question the intersections of patriarchy, privilege, and fear that shape their world. Lush settings, careful worldbuilding, and taut exposition are seamlessly presented through the characters’ internal observations. Main characters read White; queer identities are woven into the story.

An electrifying, high-stakes series opener grounded in feminist themes. (maps) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-46327-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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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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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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