DREAMFEVER

From the Dream Walker Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Readers are left blinking and anticipating the next volume of this nightmarish saga.

In this sequel to Dreamfire (2015), Joshlyn grapples with her new Dream Walker status and her own nightmares.

Dream Walkers enter and help resolve the nightmares of others, and Josh is believed to be the True Dream Walker, endowed with special powers.  In the previous novel, vicious villain Feodor tried to kill Josh with his memories, and now they linger in her subconscious, infecting her sleep with terrible dreams in which her relationship with him is both terrifying and erotic. She can tell no one that she’s building one of Feodor’s dream-controlling devices, and as her relationship with her boyfriend/apprentice, Will, suffers, she questions her own motives. Meanwhile, the princess Mirren has escaped the Hidden Kingdom, desperately seeking a genuine life only to find that she has entered a cutthroat political battle for dominion over the Dream. In order to maintain the balance between the Dream and the World, Josh and her family are forced to play a treacherous game with the very being that nearly destroyed them. Unlike the first book, this outing is not bogged down by numerous characters or convoluted politics. Written with an alluring, almost hallucinatory atmosphere punctuated by visceral horror, this is a phantasmagoric swirl in which quantum theory meets Freddy Krueger.

Readers are left blinking and anticipating the next volume of this nightmarish saga. (Paranormal adventure. 15-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07811-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

REDEMPTION PREP

Only marginally intriguing.

In a remote part of Utah, in a “temple of excellence,” the best of the best are recruited to nurture their talents.

Redemption Preparatory is a cross between the Vatican and a top-secret research facility: The school is rooted in Christian ideology (but very few students are Christian), Mass is compulsory, cameras capture everything, and “maintenance” workers carry Tasers. When talented poet Emma disappears, three students, distrusting of the school administration, launch their own investigation. Brilliant chemist Neesha believes Emma has run away to avoid taking the heat for the duo’s illegal drug enterprise. Her boyfriend, an athlete called Aiden, naturally wants to find her. Evan, a chess prodigy who relies on patterns and has difficulty processing social signals, believes he knows Emma better than anyone. While the school is an insidious character on its own and the big reveal is slightly psychologically disturbing, Evan’s positioning as a tragic hero with an uncertain fate—which is connected to his stalking of Emma (even before her disappearance)—is far more unsettling. The ’90s setting provides the backdrop for tongue-in-cheek technological references but doesn’t do anything for the plot. Student testimonials and voice-to-text transcripts punctuate the three-way third-person narration that alternates among Neesha, Evan, and Aiden. Emma, Aiden, and Evan are assumed to be white; Neesha is Indian. Students are from all over the world, including Asia and the Middle East.

Only marginally intriguing. (Mystery. 15-18)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266203-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

THE PRISON HEALER

From the Prison Healer series , Vol. 1

Readable but not remarkable, yet another grimdark political fantasy.

Prison life gets even more punishing in this fantasy series opener.

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is 10 years into a life sentence at “death prison” Zalindov. She’s succeeded her late father as the titular prison healer, dosing patients with herbs and possessing extensive, modern medical knowledge of bacteria, viruses, and immune systems. Aside from cheerful innocent/MacGuffin Tipp, Kiva befriends few fellow prisoners and even fewer guards, most of whom are harshly abusive. While Naari, a new female guard, and Jaren, a handsome new prisoner, chip away at her frozen facade, Kiva volunteers to undertake an epic Trial by Ordeal on behalf of the Rebel Queen, the newest political prisoner. Under pressure to save her friends, the Rebel Queen, and herself—and losing hope of rescue or release—Kiva faces four elemental magic Trials sans innate talent. In between grueling, gruesome spectacles, Kiva also acts as an epidemiologist, tracking down an illness plaguing the prisoners. The claustrophobic setting—evoking the horrors of a Siberian gulag or Nazi concentration camp—exudes dread and brutality; levity and lightness are minimal. A predictable romance ensues, and generic fantasy clichés abound—royals and rebels, lost heirs, vague magic—hastily concluded with a trite plot twist and setup for a sequel. Most main characters read as White; there is a diversity of skin tones in this fantasy world.

Readable but not remarkable, yet another grimdark political fantasy. (map) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-43455-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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