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QUEEN AMONG THE DEAD

A lovely story fit for a mythical queen.

History and magic intertwine in this fantasy retelling of ancient Celtic mythology.

As the voiceless, unloved younger daughter of Eire’s Dagda, Neve Anann Eriu holds no true power despite her eagerness and ambition. But the tragic death of her older sister, the crown princess, sees Neve on the path to the kingdom’s throne. It’s a path filled with magic, treason, and unexpected alliances. Ronan is a former Druid apprentice–turned-thief whose life is transformed after an unexpected encounter with Neve, a princess whose blood shines with the forbidden magic they seem, impossibly, to share. At a time when magic is outlawed and performed only by power-hungry Druids, Neve and Ronan find themselves on a collision course that could unite the land they both love. The myths of prehistorical Ireland come to life in this slow-moving dual-perspective fantasy novel inspired by ancient legends. It’s a story filled to the brim with sorcery and treason and with a pinch of romance. It also reflects on social divides and injustices between the outcast ancient peoples of Eire and the invading usurpers. Lengthy expository sections bog down parts of the novel but not enough to mar Neve’s ongoing story of growing into her power through her believable fighting skills, smart diplomacy, and outmaneuvering of those who underestimate her.

A lovely story fit for a mythical queen. (the Folk of Eire) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-63893-018-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Zando

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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