A good romp for those who enjoy the genre, with some effective suspense.

DARKER STILL

A NOVEL OF MAGIC MOST FOUL

Fans of Victorian gothics can get another fix with this new twist on The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Framed as a “diary” confiscated by baffled 1880 New York police, the story finds Miss Natalie Stewart entranced by the portrait of tragic young Lord Denbury. She soon learns that Denbury did not commit suicide as reported but still lives, trapped inside his portrait. She allies herself with Mrs. Evelyn Northe, a wealthy and knowledgeable spiritualist, in an effort to battle the demon that has imprisoned him and to release Denbury from the evil magic cast upon him. Natalie, however, is mute, having lost her voice at age 4, when her mother died. But surprise! Natalie can enter the portrait to meet Denbury face to face, and when she does, she can speak. Of course, she and Denbury instantly fall in love, thrilling to every accidental and forbidden touch and building up to the all-important, breathless goal of Victorian gothic romances: The Kiss. Although she follows most of the conventions of the genre, Hieber applies some real imagination to the story. Her depiction of the dark magic involved and of the demon’s murderous activities adds some good suspense and stands out as the strongest element of the novel. Characterizations work fine, although none surpasses two dimensions.

A good romp for those who enjoy the genre, with some effective suspense. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6052-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 5

None

The Potternaut rolls on, picking up more size than speed but propelling 15-year-old Harry through more hard tests of character and magical ability. Rowling again displays her ability to create both likable and genuinely scary characters, most notable among the latter being a pair of Dementors who accost Harry in a dark alley in the opening chapter. Even more horrible, Ministry of Magic functionary Dolores Umbridge descends upon Hogwarts with a tinkly laugh, a taste in office decor that runs to kitten paintings, and the authority, soon exercised, to torture students, kick Harry off the Quidditch team, fire teachers, and even to challenge Dumbledore himself. Afflicted with sudden fits of adolescent rage, Harry also has worries, from upcoming exams and recurrent eerie dreams to the steadfast refusal of the Magical World's bureaucracy to believe that Voldemort has returned. Steadfast allies remain, including Hermione, whose role here is largely limited to Chief Explainer, and a ragtag secret order of adults formed to protect him from dangers, which they characteristically keep to themselves until he finds out about them the hard way. Constructed, like Goblet of Fire, of multiple, weakly connected plot lines and rousing, often hilarious set pieces, all set against a richly imagined backdrop, this involves its characters once again in plenty of adventures while moving them a step closer to maturity. And it's still impossible to predict how it's all going to turn out.

None (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 9780439358064

Page Count: 896

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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