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

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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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A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time.

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS

From the Heroes of Olympus series , Vol. 5

With just 12 days to go until Gaea awakens fully on Aug. 1 and brings an end to the world as we know it, two groups of demigods struggle to stop her.

Aboard the Argo II, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo race to Athens for the final showdown. Meanwhile, three formerly supporting characters struggle to haul the ancient and massive Athena Parthenos statue from Europe to Camp Half-Blood: son of Hades Nico di Angelo, daughter of Bellona Reyna Ramírez-Arellano (and former praetor at New Rome) and satyr Coach Hedge. Coach Hedge is there mostly for comic relief, but his anxiety for the welfare of his very pregnant wood-nymph wife at Camp Half-Blood, where rogue New Rome augur Octavian has massed his armies to attack on Aug. 1, is touchingly genuine. The story of the demigods headed to Athens focuses on Jason, Piper and Leo and offers what Riordan does best: comedic, action-packed encounters with deities most readers—and sometimes characters—have never heard of. Goddess of victory Nike is particularly funny as she rails against "namby-pamby ideas of friendship and everybody wins participation awards." The story's emotional heft mostly comes from Nico's and Reyna's arduous and heartfelt journeys to self-acceptance. Readers who haven't made a point of revisiting The House of Hades (2013) before starting this may find themselves wondering just why each group's mission is so important, but there's no questioning that the characters think they're vital. And ultimately, any prophecy-driven adventure is at bottom arbitrary anyway. The story's occasional ventures into romance are stilted and awkward, but fortunately they are brief.

The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time. (Fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4673-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2014

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