From the Secret Order series , Vol. 3

Clever machines, well-drawn relationships of varying constellations, literal death traps and world-threatening intrigue,...

The high-stakes conclusion of Meg’s quest to become an Amusementist and find her missing grandfather.

Resourceful Meg overcame her low station in The Legacy of the Clockwork Key (2013) and defeated naysayers as an Academy apprentice in Rise of the Arcane Fire (2014), but her possible future—be it in the Order or marriage—won’t matter if the mysterious man with the clockwork mask gets her first. Meg’s classmates rally to help; they find a lead not just to her longtime antagonist, but also potentially to her grandfather. Two obstacles would prevent her from chasing the lead. First, there are matters of propriety and the potentially irreparable damage that can be done to a young lady’s reputation through misadventure. The second challenge is temporal. To follow that critical lead, she must travel from London to France—but just six days hence, the man with the clockwork mask sails for America from England and she must attend the New Year’s Eve Amusementist meeting to swear her oath to the Academy or risk losing her spot as an apprentice (and future as an Amusementist). Meg’s personal ambitions and yearnings for freedom prevent the romantic storyline from devolving into a love triangle, and her frustrations with societal conventions make her sympathetic while adding drama and upping the stakes.

Clever machines, well-drawn relationships of varying constellations, literal death traps and world-threatening intrigue, headlined by an aspirational heroine, make this a winner. (Steampunk. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6805-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013



From the Heartstopper series

Short and sweet.

When Charlie returns home from in-patient anorexia treatment in a psychiatric ward, he and his older sister, Tori, navigate a difficult Christmas with their family in this Heartstopper novella.

Tori thought her parents might learn to open up after Charlie started treatment, but they—especially Mum—still avoid discussing anything serious. Now that Charlie is home from the hospital, all Tori wants is to spend time with him, but the pressure of the holiday increases family tensions and threatens to drive Charlie away. Set during unexplored moments of Volume 4 of the Heartstopper graphic-novel series, this three-chapter novella zooms in on Christmas Day. Each chapter moves the story forward from a different perspective, shifting from Tori to Charlie to their 7-year-old brother, Oliver. Nick, Charlie’s boyfriend, makes an appearance as a source of comfort, but the conflict focuses on Charlie and his family. As Tori tries to support Charlie, she wrestles with guilt and loneliness. Meanwhile, Charlie and his mum, who both want a normal holiday, keep clashing. Although the story handles heavy themes of mental illness, Oseman balances the fraught emotions with tender moments and a hopeful but honest outlook on recovery that emphasizes the value of therapy. There will be greater emotional impact for those familiar with the original stories, but as a bonus entry, this novella has high appeal for devoted fans. Occasional illustrations add to the charm.

Short and sweet. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781338885132

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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