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CITY OF BLOOD AND FIRE

From the A War of Banes and Demons series

A smart, fast-paced series finale that ties up loose ends while providing all the action readers have come to expect.

Awards & Accolades

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The concluding installment of Harkness’ YA fantasy series pits young soldiers against a new kind of enemy.

The fifth and final book in the A War of Banes and Demons series finds demon slayers Garet and Salick back in the city of Shirath after their dangerous trip to the Far North, where they discovered that the demons they’d been fighting were being created by a powerful enemy. What they find on their return shocks them both: Already weakened by continuous demon attacks, the city will face a final onslaught on the spring equinox, which is worryingly close. Trax, king of Shirath, is also showing signs of losing his grip on his people and his sanity. Soldiers, for example, refuse to perform unlawful executions on his orders, exacerbating the sense of fracture within the city walls. Soon, the Fifth Ward’s Maze, where “the dregs of the city” reside, finds itself under attack by the arrival of a new type of demon—one created using humans: “As expected, since the demon had spread no fear as it approached, he found silkstone plates fixed to its skull with small iron nails….Its face was no longer even vaguely human, but bore a fully toothed beak, eyes as black as a starless night, and a helmet-like crest that stretched from just above the stone plates to the back of its head.” Alongside the rich descriptions and brisk action are explorations of larger themes: good versus evil, the weight of power, and what it means to be human. A bittersweet ending—complete with a shocking banishment and slightly less shocking wedding—provides a fitting conclusion to a saga that still contains the potential for many more adventures.

A smart, fast-paced series finale that ties up loose ends while providing all the action readers have come to expect.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2024

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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