Though imperfect, the novel warns, “Power changes everything”; those intrigued by Elloren’s desire to halt “the normal cycle...

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THE IRON FLOWER

From the Black Witch Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Thoroughly committed to the anti-Gardnerian Resistance, aspiring apothecary Elloren Gardner also struggles with the question of committing to a man—and if so, which one?

As Gardneria tightens its fist around nominally independent Verpacia, Elloren’s cell weighs its options. Refuge in the Noi lands to the east beckons, but there is still work to be done in Verpax City—including mining Gardnerian Cmdr. Lukas Grey’s obvious attraction to Elloren for information. She’s attracted too, but that’s nothing compared to what she feels for Kelt and fellow Resistance member Yvan. Much happens over the course of this sequel: horrific Gardnerian mob violence; a trip to impoverished Keltania; a delegation to the all-female Amaz; and more. Despite this, the narrative arc feels flat, as Elloren accomplished much of her character growth previously. Forest piles trope on trope, encouraging readers to make associations with real-world history (Gardneria evokes Nazi Germany), but the associations are not firm (the Gardneria/Keltania relationship can be read as a cognate to modern Israel and Palestine), causing readers to constantly reassess them. Readers who loved the first book will find Forest’s consciousness of the dynamics of allyship further raised. Elloren rescued a Selkie named Marina from sexual slavery in the first book, The Black Witch (2017); here, after she facilitates a deal with the Amaz to free all similarly enslaved Selkies, Marina and the Amaz accomplish the deed with ruthless efficiency while Elloren waits. Once Marina is reunited with her skin, she is dangerously bad-ass. Those who hated the first book will find more to dislike: Repellently, the reason Selkies in sexual bondage do not fall pregnant—because love is not involved—is reminiscent of former U.S. Rep.Todd Akin's (R-Missouri) obtuse theory about rape rarely resulting in pregnancy: “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Though imperfect, the novel warns, “Power changes everything”; those intrigued by Elloren’s desire to halt “the normal cycle of history” may wonder how this might change in Volume 3. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-335-91739-3

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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