BLUE FLAME

BOOK ONE OF THE PERFECT FIRE TRILOGY

The allure of glorious lost causes inspires a tale set in 1242 amid the doomed heresy-fueled Occitan resistance to the French monarchy and the Church. Cathar commoner Raimon and Catholic noble Yolanda, rapt in their budding romance, care little for politics and religion. They share a devotion to their homeland, its songs, dances and legends, most especially the stories of the holy Blue Flame, destined to protect Languedoc. But the times plunge them headlong into a tightening net of intrigue, inquisition and betrayal, and both will have to decide whether their loyalty belongs to their people or to each other. The impeccably researched details reveal a deep appreciation for the region and its culture. Indeed, the narrator is the countryside itself, a stylistic choice that casts an oddly distancing effect upon the unfolding drama. The main characters bear the burden of representing their respective “sides,” leaving enlivening personality quirks to the various secondary personages. Even if too many improbable coincidences drive the plot, and the conclusion is an obvious setup for the sequel, it is unlikely that fans of medieval adventure will mind. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9694-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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