A popcorn read that fans of the first will eat up.

READ REVIEW

FOR BETTER OR CURSED

From the Babysitters Coven series , Vol. 2

After The Babysitters Coven (2019), Esme and Cassandra must host a Summit of demon-fighting Sitters.

Given only three days’ notice for planning and prep to host the Sitters and the Synod for the Summit (a once-in-a-decade conference), Esme and Cassandra have other worries. Cassandra’s having episodes where she disconnects from reality (causing Esme to worry she’s been cursed like Esme’s mother) while Esme’s dad is acting strangely—extra-stressed and less responsible than usual. The Summit brings new struggles, as all of the other Sitters started training earlier and know each other from Sitter gatherings; there’s an uncomfortable gulf between them and the local duo. Delightful chaos blooms as the Summit goes on, from inexplicable demonic activity outside the hotel (which yields fun action scenes, though the town’s mild reaction undercuts its impact) to unintentional Summit gate-crashing by both Janis and Pig (and everything that goes wrong while hiding them). Though the storylines themselves tend to be easily guessed (and with stakes that could use a little more clarification), the jokes and clever banter land easily (barring the occasional too-dated reference), and the story maintains an easy, breezy clip. The expanded cast adds further racial and sexual-orientation diversity (joining Black non-Sitter Janis and Esme and Cassandra, described in the previous title as White and Mexican, respectively) and expands the mythos before leaving teases for the next book.

A popcorn read that fans of the first will eat up. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-70741-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger.

KINGDOM OF THE WICKED

From the Kingdom of the Wicked series , Vol. 1

A vengeful Sicilian witch forges an unlikely alliance resulting in epic, supernatural consequences.

Eighteen-year-old Emilia di Carlo and her twin sister, Vittoria, have a secret: They are streghe, trained from a young age to use magic. Emilia is as introverted and romantic as her sister is bold and irreverent, but they share a love of good food and a disregard for their grandmother’s warnings about the devil and his brothers. Known as the Malvagi or Wicked, the seven princes of Hell have not been seen in years until tragedy strikes and a foray into forbidden magic accidentally summons the Prince of Wrath: Three witches—including Vittoria—are dead, and Emilia is desperate to avenge her sister and stop the killings. An uneasy truce with Wrath soon blossoms into a tantalizing, dangerous attraction with an uneven power dynamic. Rich worldbuilding constructs a post-unification Kingdom of Italy in which witches, demons, and shape-shifters live—and battle—among oblivious humans in a society strongly influenced by the Catholic brotherhood in its midst. Several significant plot points unfold in a Capuchin monastery and its eerie catacombs, and the brotherhood's conflation of witchcraft with the devil is emphasized throughout. Most characters are cued as White—Emilia and her sister have brown eyes and hair and olive skin—while the dark-haired Wicked have golden skin.

An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger. (map) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42846-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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