A clever series continues in a novel that despite its grim setting is often sweet.




Andersen’s hero is back in hell, this time helping Death himself, in the YA series that began with The Devil’s Apprentice (2018).

Philip Engel has just started eighth grade. Since recently returning from hell, he’s been indulging his devilish side with risky behavior. He can often hear the voice of Satina, a girl devil he befriended, egging him on in his head. One night, after seeing his mother suffer a crippling migraine, Philip wakes from a nightmare. Outside his window is a horrible storm—and an old man he recognizes as Mortimer, aka Death. Philip ventures into the courtyard, and lightning strikes a tree that hits his head. The boy wakes up on a landing between heaven and hell. Though he misses his deceased father, Victor, who he’s sure is in heaven, he also misses Satina. His decision is made when the devil girl appears and escorts him to Death’s house. There, Mortimer reveals that his hundred-sided die, used to determine the length of a mortal's life, has been stolen. When Philip sees the hourglass representing his mother’s life, almost empty of sand, he agrees to help Death on one condition: that he’s granted a roll of the die to try to keep his mother alive longer. In this sequel Andersen quickly reorients readers to Philip’s world and offers a fresh mystery. Hell and its outskirts are moodily detailed as a place where “stunted, leafless trees stretched like praying creatures reaching up with a thousand slender fingers.” Old companions like Lucifax the cat and the devil himself return, as do bits of philosophy that give the series weight, including the line, “Men and women value only that which they might lose….Without death, life is uninteresting and utterly meaningless.” Andersen also humorously deals with familiar parts of the Bible, such as “a flood to cleanse earth of all its scum and waywardness.” Philip’s growth as a character remains a priority, too, and the true whereabouts of his father are teased throughout the narrative. The finale resets the board for the next installment.

A clever series continues in a novel that despite its grim setting is often sweet.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018


Page Count: 325

Publisher: Høst & Søn

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.


After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.


Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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