An anthology of riches, even if they aren’t always fair of form.

MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS

AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEASTLY TALES

Short stories with otherworldly creatures may be a dime a dozen, but rarely do they offer such nuanced scope.

Link and Grant, who edited the fantasy half of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology until its demise in 2009, know their way around excellent short fiction, and their editorial skills are on display here. From the light(ish) and delightful to the subversively unromantic, from humor to horror, each entry both tells a good story and says something about monstrousness. “This Whole Demoning Thing” posits a world of demons but demonstrates that sometimes the greatest power is just being yourself; “Wings in the Morning” and “A Small Wild Magic” are laced with romance regardless of species, while “The Woods Hide in Plain Sight” takes the “girl meets vampire, finds eternal love” trope and turns it inside out. On the other end of the spectrum, “Son of Abyss” and “Mothers Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” guarantee cold shivers and probably nightmares, one through gore and the other through psychology. Standouts include Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Moriabe’s Children” and Holly Black’s “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind),” both of which clearly prove that monstrous behavior is usually human in form.

An anthology of riches, even if they aren’t always fair of form. (introduction) (Anthology/horror/fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6473-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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