WHITE HEAT

Plot advancement defers to character development in this sequel set during the 13th-century Albigensian crusade. Raimon the weaver’s son, rescued from the heretics’ pyre, retreats with other desperate refugees as his true love Yolanda is carried off to Paris, betrothed to another. Much to-ing and fro-ing ensues as Yolanda tries to escape, and Raimon battles attempts to claim the holy Blue Flame for either the Catholic or Cathar side. In the end, both lose everything that they thought most important but are filled with a renewed commitment to Occitanian independence and to each other. While competently crafted, this trilogy lacks any special merit to stand out amid the current glut of Cathar fiction. It wears its research lightly, relying upon well-chosen details to convey the flavor of medieval life. The antagonists are given complex and sympathetic portrayals, while the heroes struggle as much with their own flaws as with the forces opposing them. Alas, this volume continues the twee conceit of making the land itself the narrator and forces several unlikely coincidences to move the story along. Purchase where the first volume is popular. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9695-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2009

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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CLOCKWORK ANGEL

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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