A Sapphic fantasy romance series-opener brimming with blood and longing.

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In Adams’ YA fantasy novel, a teenage queen and a princess on opposite sides of a war collide in a fatal quest for revenge.

Princess Kalei Maristela  of the island nation Marama has the power that will win the war her parents are hiding from her. Kalei is known as the “Princess of Death”; during the full moon, she has the ability to bring the dead back to life. Additionally, she can use her long, moon-white hair as an extra limb, among other powers she discovers on her eventual journey. Queen Evhen Lockes of Vodaeard, the other point-of-view character, became queen when immediately before the start of the novel’s action, Chief Mikala, Kalei’s father, murdered her parents, Vodaeard’s sitting king and queen. Evhen and her brother, Alekey, sail to Marama for revenge, along with the king’s advisor, Talen, and Evhen’s trainer, Icana. When Evhen appears to exact her revenge on Mikala by murdering Kalei, the princess convinces her to instead kidnap her to use as collateral, allowing her to discover the truth behind her parents’ schemes. Evhen, Kalei, Talen, Icana, and Alekey travel across the continent, racing back to Vodaeard in hopes of stopping the war. Along the way, romance blossoms between the leads, despite the mistrust they share. The point of view alternates each chapter between Kalei and Evhen. Oddly, the alternating points of view continue until the final chapter, which is a flashback from Alekey’s point of view. Despite this abrupt transition, and some editorial issues, the narrative is fully engrossing. Throughout the novel, the sensual descriptors lend realism to the fantasy plot (“Moon dust sparkled in the marble beneath my bare feet. Gold veins ran in rivulets through the floor, streaming up the walls to the vaulted ceiling, spilling into the hundred-candle chandelier dangling from a glass dome”). The gore is heavy throughout, especially when Kalei raises the dead—Kalei’s resurrections are not healing, leaving the resurrected with the wounds that caused their deaths, adding a level of body horror to this fantasy.

A Sapphic fantasy romance series-opener brimming with blood and longing.

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781958607091

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Emerge Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2023


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


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

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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