Achingly gorgeous and gruesomely fascinating.

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ONE DARK THRONE

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 2

Three sisters intensify their deadly struggle for the crown in the second of a horror-tinged fantasy series.

After the spectacular catastrophe of the Quickening (Three Dark Crowns, 2016), the balance of power among the queens has shifted. With the rampage by Arsinoe’s bear, the naturalist candidate has demonstrated unexpected strength, and now elemental Mirabella is no longer treated as the foreordained victor. Meanwhile, poisoner Katharine has returned from her rumored death with a vengeance…and a mission. Alliances shift as the various factions play Temple against Council, and potential suitors become both rivals and pawns—but not even the Goddess can prevent the queens from deciding to take their fates into their own hands. Blake’s already pitch-black tale shades even darker, as the queens’ cruel contest piles up an escalating (and grisly) body count. Yet more excruciating is the curse upon their experience of love, whether with siblings, parents, or friends; in romance, passion, even religious devotion—all relationships are twisted, broken, abandoned, and betrayed. With numerous alternating viewpoints, the exquisitely restrained prose limns a nuanced, subtly realized matriarchal society: all-white, normatively heterosexual (but with exceptions), in which even the most complex male characters function only in relationship to women. The deliberate pacing at the outset serves to re-establish the labyrinthine web of characterization and plot, paying off in a tumultuous climax that piles one shocking twist upon another.

Achingly gorgeous and gruesomely fascinating. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238546-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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