A readable first installment, but future books will need stronger plotlines to pull readers through.


Davis (The Devil Wants Finn Carey’s Soul, 2011, etc.) returns with a historical fantasy of witches and infernal spirits in Colonial Massachusetts, the first in a projected trilogy.

In 1736 Boston, authorities continue to hunt for witches—even though Salem was destroyed decades ago. Some people argue that Gov. William Whitelocke is holding on to such tyrannical methods in order to maintain his own power, and young Cate Allen and her family get caught up in a rebellion against him. Eventually, the situation forces Cate to unlock her own witchy powers. Meanwhile, the governor’s dissolute son, Grayson, is thrust into a position of authority when his dutiful brother, John, is assassinated. With the help of his brother’s military protégé, Henry Rigsdale, and the appointed magical practitioner of Massachusetts Colony, Grayson tries to discover the truth about a Whitelock family curse, and what really happened to the witches of Salem. Meanwhile, the dark sorcerer August Swaine attempts to advance the science of magic, not knowing what types of demons he might be summoning. Davis’ novel intriguingly sets classic fantasy tropes in a historical setting that readers don’t see too often, which results in an enticing blend of familiar concepts in unfamiliar surroundings. Unfortunately, the book’s main problem is one shared by many other first volumes in trilogies: It primarily provides a lot of setup for later installments, spread between the different characters, as Swaine gets in over his head, Cate realizes that she must take up the mantle of a revolutionary, and Grayson sets his sights on something higher than drink. Davis writes some entertaining action scenes, and gets points for giving his characters some reasonable dimension (so that the admirable military man, for example, also has a jealous side). Still, when mentor characters talk about the danger of the “shadowrise,” readers may expect it to play a bigger role in this novel.

A readable first installment, but future books will need stronger plotlines to pull readers through.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0983688730

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Night Blue Woods Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2014

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Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.


This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Any moral that may be gleaned from the tangled narrative is buried in confusion. (Fantasy. YA)



A convoluted fantasy offering a series of morals about justice, mercy, human treatment of animals and human treatment of other humans.

A cluster of animals have been educated by a World War II veteran and his activist wife. The animals, a now-vegetarian mix of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, live in harmony on Cloudburst Mountain. Following their scriptures (the Bible, Animal Farm and judgments such as “Humans Are Evil”), they plan for the day when they will kill all the humans and rule the world. The tale follows the adventures of their coyote prophet Justice and human ally Cody as they travel the United States preparing other animals for “The Rebellion.” Though they meet mostly repellent, violent humans and mistreated animals, they also encounter enough well-meaning, victimized humans to make Cody question his alliance with the cause of human genocide. Meanwhile, the grandson of the original human missionaries to the animals threatens the entire endeavor as he plans to mine the mountain for uranium. Ultimately, the animals succeed in murdering the vast majority of the human race, giving them hope for a shining new day. This overly complex tale is dense with purple prose and far too many extraneous characters–for example, Gordon “Raindance” Fell, the Shadow Shaman of the Pokihallah tribe; and Forest Victor, who appears for the first time late in the story, saying of his never-mentioned-before dead wife, “if only her hatred of the evil deeds of the baby seal killers hadn’t drawn her and her cameras into a combative stance.”

Any moral that may be gleaned from the tangled narrative is buried in confusion. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: June 21, 2006

ISBN: 0-595-39274-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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