Mostly about licking wounds in the wake of the opener’s savage inner and outer conflicts, but well-endowed with memorable...

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DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT

From the Declaration Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In this emotionally intense if loosely woven sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), Taylor puts Karou, a chimaera resurrected into the body of a blue-haired human teenager, through severe tests of both heart and soul.

Sundered from her seraphic lover Akiva by rage, guilt and a huge blood debt, Karou has led charismatic chimaera leader Thiago, the White Wolf, to a refuge in the Atlas Mountains. With her magical skills, she provides him with a band of reanimated warriors to protect the remaining chimaera back in the world of Eretz. But Thiago is more bent on vengeance—even at the cost of seeing his people exterminated in reprisals. On Eretz, Akiva is driven by abhorrence of the general slaughter to plot an attempt on his cruel emperor’s life. And meanwhile on Earth, to no evident purpose beyond comic relief (“What?…I was starving and our hostess was passed out on the bed with a hot monster boy”), Karou’s street-performer friends Zuzana and Mik show up suddenly, having tracked her to North Africa. Ultimately violent events, revelations and no few contrivances drive both the war and the central romance (“As ever when their eyes meet, it is like a lit fuse searing a path through the air between them”) into new phases.

Mostly about licking wounds in the wake of the opener’s savage inner and outer conflicts, but well-endowed with memorable characters and turns of phrase. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-13397-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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