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CASTLES IN THEIR BONES

From the Castles in Their Bones series , Vol. 1

Dazzling, female-driven fantasy.

Triplet sisters leave their homeland to marry princes from other countries, a step in their mother’s plan to expand her rule.

Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz have trained their whole lives in the art of deception. Empress Margaraux wants them to drive their new countries to war with each other so she can sweep in and assume control. Kindhearted Sophronia is sent to Temarin to finally meet her betrothed, for whom she has already started to develop feelings through their exchange of letters. Daphne, the sister closest to their mother, heads to Friv, where a rebellion is brewing, and Beatriz trained with courtesans for her assigned duty in Cellaria, a country where magic is outlawed. Margaraux gifted each daughter one wish, pulled down from the stars, to use only when desperately needed. But the empress has plans of her own, and as truths are revealed and new friendships and romances bloom, each sister must decide where her loyalties lie. Kicking off a new trilogy, this enchanting tale is filled with captivating court intrigue and espionage. The narrative shifts between the three sisters, creating page-turning momentum. The worldbuilding is expansive yet never overwhelming, as the multiple settings and characters are distinct and compelling. While there seems to be no racial diversity on this fantasy continent—the characters present White—queerness is present, accepted in some countries and not others, and there are tensions between people of different classes.

Dazzling, female-driven fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11816-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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