An extraordinary debut packed with richly drawn characters in a sure-to-entertain storyline.

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THE BECKONING SHADOW

From the Beckoning Shadow series , Vol. 1

A girl with magical powers enters a brutal tournament, trying to win a chance to rewrite her past.

As a child, Vesper loved stories about the Oddities and their magic. Then she became one. She’s a Harbinger, capable of manifesting people’s fears. Ever since a horrifying incident borne of her lack of control, Vesper’s been a runaway loner. After landing in San Francisco, she crosses paths with fellow Oddities and learns about a high-stakes cage-fighting tournament; the winning Oddity gets $1 million and one unraveling (undoing something that has happened, altering the past). She doesn’t know how to fight and is scared of her own dangerous powers but badly wants to undo her damaging past. Vesper teams up with Sam, a nonmagical Baseline human, who oversees her rigorous training at an MMA gym. The deal is that she gets the cash prize, and he gets the unraveling to correct where things went wrong in his last relationship two years prior. Even while planning to betray him and claim the unraveling, Vesper begins to fall for Sam. All storylines—the tournament, what happened with Sam’s ex, why the rules of magic are changing—tie together through flawless pacing and well-balanced action, leading to revelations that foster character growth. While Vesper and Sam are assumed white, secondary characters have varying skin tones.

An extraordinary debut packed with richly drawn characters in a sure-to-entertain storyline. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-265761-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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