BLOOD RED HORSE

BOOK ONE OF THE DE GRANVILLE TRILOGY

A British import reminds us that there are historical potboilers for the young even as there are for their parents in this overblown and under-plotted first of a trilogy. From 1185 to 1193, readers follow hot-blooded and hard-hearted Gavin, his younger brother William, bright and compassionate, and their father’s ward Eleanor. Thomas de Granville, the boys’ father, goes on Crusade with King Richard Lionheart; his sons go with him and Eleanor stays behind to learn to read and fend off a slimy suitor. The most vivid character is Hosanna, the red horse of the title, a fierce, intelligent, graceful animal who carries William to Jerusalem and back during the Crusaders’ battles with the leader Saladin (a historical trope handled far more compellingly by Catherine Jinks in Pagan’s Crusade, 2003). The human characters have little depth or energy—21st-century cardboard cutouts set in a medieval frame. On the other hand, it is a page-turner, as Hosanna overcomes mistreatment, attack and injury to inspire both William and Saladin’s assistant Kamil, into whose hands the horse briefly falls. (Historical fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8027-8960-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more