TO KILL A SHADOW

An atmospheric and promising first installment.

A series opener blending fantasy and horror with an undercurrent of romance.

The sudden disappearance 50 years ago of the Sun Goddess, Raina, left the realm of Asidia awash in moonlight and misery. The annual Calling drafts boys, such as 18-year-old Kiara’s sickly brother, Liam, into the Knights of Eternal Star, who then venture into the accursed land of the Mist in search of answers. But Kiara’s brazenness captures the attention of the Hand of Death, the Commander of the Knights, and she’s recruited in her brother’s stead. Years of rigorous combat training have prepared Kiara well for the Knights—but not for the growing attraction between her and the Hand of Death himself, enigmatic Commander Jude Maddox. As they journey into the Mist, they must trust each other in order to survive and untangle the legends that just might save the realm. In a crowded fantasy field, the novel distinguishes itself by leaning into the macabre nature of its literally dark world, complete with shadow beasts, flesh-eating spiders, and the mercurial Mist itself. The unrelenting action sequences are not for the squeamish, and the dead (and undead) body count piles up. Cutscenes provide necessary narrative magic, reviving Kiara and Jude’s romance and buttressing the worldbuilding lore that opens many of the chapters. Main characters are cued white.

An atmospheric and promising first installment. (map) (Fantasy/horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374318

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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