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REIGN RETURNED

THE FELSERPENT CHRONICLES

A fine questing adventure and a promising start to a series.

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In Keridan’s fantasy series starter, a grieving young magic user must collaborate with an enemy to find answers about their world and themselves.

Eighteen-year-old Kyra Valorian has always been magically gifted, with many spells coming to her with ease. It’s assumed that she will one day take over her father’s job as the Princeps Shaman of Aeles. However, after a tragedy takes her father from her, Kyra discovers her powers are something much greater than she thought—and more dangerous. It turns out that she is a Recovrancer: a person who can travel into the world of the dead and come back. This type of magic is illegal in her society, and there haven’t been any Recovrancers for centuries. Meanwhile, in the realm of Nocens—home of Aeles’ longtime enemy, the Daevals—an assassin named Sebastian is looking for information on Recovrancers. His mother was killed 13 years ago, and ever since, he has had to rely on himself to adapt to a harsh world. He wants to retrieve an ancient, powerful sword called Rhannu, and while searching for a unicorn horn as part of a plan to do this, he nearly dies. Kyra helps heal him, and as they avoid authorities, they realize that they must work together to find the information about recovrancy. Neither knows if they can trust each other, but they feel a spark and familiarity around each other that’s hard to explain. Keridan’s worldbuilding is excellently crafted and seamlessly integrated into the story, enhancing the exposition. The author’s rich and immersive imagery further supports the atmosphere: “The warmth of the sun provided a nice contrast to the cool wind arriving in fits and spurts. Red and orange leaves stood out against the greenery of the forest, and the shrill warble of a bird sounded nearby.” The characters of Kyra and Sebastian feel complex and realistic, and they make dynamic, active decisions throughout. Secondary characters—family members, friends, colleagues, and enemies—all feel important to the story, as well, and have their own depth.

A fine questing adventure and a promising start to a series.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68463-155-1

Page Count: 376

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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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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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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