Tedious; only for readers who can't get enough of Varen, Isobel and Poe.

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ENSHADOWED

From the Nevermore series , Vol. 2

Her goth boyfriend, Varen Nethers, disappeared into the sinister, Poe-inflected dream world in Nevermore (2010), and now it's up to cheerleader Isobel Lanley to find him again.

The key to rescuing Varen revolves around the mysterious “Poe Toaster,” a figure who visits Poe's Baltimore gravesite each year on the author's birthday. Isobel contrives to get to Baltimore on the fateful date but doesn't make much of a plan; most of the action leading up to Isobel's rendezvous with the Toaster involves her encountering frightening fragments of the dream world and hiding those encounters from family, teachers and even her sarcastic sidekick, Gwen. Readers who have forgotten the events of Nevermore are caught up slowly as the plot of this sequel unfolds; readers are reminded of Varen immediately, but the intricacies of the demonlike Nocs and the mechanics of dreams and waking are left somewhat unspecified. The prose is long-winded, moody and filled with awkward figures of speech (“Like flint striking in the dark, Gwen's words snatched Isobel's attention”). Dreams, chase scenes and confrontations blur into one another and become repetitive. Several dream scenes rely on characters falling asleep at unlikely moments (in a cold catacomb, waiting for the story's climax, for example), and the ending brings little in the way of resolution.

Tedious; only for readers who can't get enough of Varen, Isobel and Poe. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0204-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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