An accessible yet carefully composed YA novel with a steampunk setting.

BEAST HEART

From the Steambound Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A girl with an amazing hand and a boy with a deadly condition collide in this YA steampunk novel by Richardson (Wild Horse, 2019), the first in a trilogy.

How’s this for steampunk: Gabby Lenton’s hand is literally made of steam due to a bizarre disorder that manifested when she was 9. Now she has to wear a clockwork glove to cover it. Gabby isn’t thrilled about the development. “I want to be normal, like everyone else,” she complains to her mother, who tells her in response, “One day…you’ll understand how special it is to be…well, special.” When her mother is murdered by a mysterious creature that breaks into their home, Gabby seeks help from Detective Shaw, who promises to help her catch the beast. As they begin to search the city’s shadowy precincts, Kemple is an orphan living in the house of an abusive foster father. He’s used to beatings and chores—enough that he’s willing to take the fall for the new girl, Josephyn, when she breaks the rules. Josephyn suggests that they escape, but once they’re out in the city, Kemple is scratched by a cat. The scratch becomes infected, and Kemple begins to get sick…begins, in fact, to change. As Gabby (rechristened Brielle) and Kemple independently drift through the city’s underworld—one seeking a cure, the other revenge—they discover that monsters are more numerous and more complex than either could have imagined. Richardson’s prose possesses the gritty urgency of urban fantasy, particularly when describing the novel’s imaginative scenery: “Pedestrians jostle against one another, as if the sidewalks have somehow become valuable property. Even the airships seem to have lost their gentle, whalelike sway—now the sky looks like a wild sea, with every dirigible behaving like a predator on the hunt.” The novel takes its time getting started, but the main characters—particularly Gabby—are likable and well drawn. Despite the steampunk setting, the story has a rather classic, almost mythic structure, which will entertain those who give themselves over to the novel’s somewhat leisurely pace. Two sequels are planned, and readers will be interested to see where Richardson goes with these two slow-cooked characters and their evocative milieu.

An accessible yet carefully composed YA novel with a steampunk setting.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-946154-35-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Meerkat Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

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FIREBIRDS SOARING

AN ANTHOLOGY OF ORIGINAL SPECULATIVE FICTION

This follow-up to Firebirds Rising (2006) will hold great appeal for fantasy fans who don’t mind exchanging their epics for short stories. From the lush and lyrical to the minimalist, soaring is exactly what these stories do, taking the reader through unexplored lands of the fantastic, well beyond wizards, vampires and faeries. Some stories are clearly rooted in fantasy legends, like Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s flowing centerpiece, “The Ghosts of Strangers.” Others, like Carol Emshwiller’s “The Dignity He’s Due,” employ some characterizations and settings that step just beyond reality, satisfying those who can’t get enough of the urban fantasy genre. Each story includes an author’s note for further information. Traditional themes in YA literature, including romance, deception and family relations, drive the stories. Both acclaimed and lesser-known authors are included, so readers who pick this up because they recognize a favorite author’s name may discover new favorites. (Short stories/fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-14-240552-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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A bloody, action-stuffed rescue mission in the supernatural world of the Fae.

RENEGADE RED

From the The Light Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In Book 2 of Horowitz’s (Shattered Blue, 2015) YA fantasy series, The Light Trilogy, a teen’s battle with brutal metaphysical forces develops her inner skills.

Teenager Noa Sullivan and her two Fae companions, brothers Callum and Judah Forsythe, dive into a collapsing Portal that allows travel between Monterey, California, and the world of Aurora, home to the Fae. They find themselves in an alternate universe where Noa must develop her own innate strengths—human and nonhuman—to rescue her little sister, Sasha. Noa’s love for Sasha spurs her to battle mystical forces in Aurora, and the Forsythe brothers’ belief in Sasha’s paranormal powers, unusual even among the Fae, causes them endless conflict over the best way to keep her safe. The new, cruel ruler of Aurora imprisons Callum and Judah, and Noa persists in her hunt for Sasha, encountering multiple physical trials along the way and assembling a posse of girl helpers. The action is relentless. Noa’s physical trials are central to her character development—the tasks hone her latent abilities to master her physical environment and are often grisly. Noa sustains a shattered shoulder, plummets down a chute so violently she assumes she’s dead, and is “slammed against one wall and then another” by a flood’s rushing waters. The reader may feel as pummeled as Noa as the gore and Fae body count pile up: “The rush of Fae slipped and fell, crashing through the now blood-and-flesh slopped spikes.” However, the strong, active storyline and deft worldbuilding help override potential reader fatigue, and YA fans will be hooked by Noa’s badassery.

A bloody, action-stuffed rescue mission in the supernatural world of the Fae.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9745956-7-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Papaloa Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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