An enchanting read for fans of fairy-tale romance and girls with battle axes.

THE BONE SPINDLE

Two treasure hunters aim to save a sleeping prince in this gender-swapped “Sleeping Beauty.”

Historian Filore Nenroa and lady “huntsman” Shane Ragnall are teen treasure hunters, each doomed by curse or circumstance to wander far from their homes. While exploring magical ruins, Fi pricks her finger on a spindle and discovers that she is destined to wake Briar Rose, the beautiful sleeping prince who seems to have stepped straight out of shōjo manga. Meanwhile, Shane meets Red, a mysterious and enthralling young woman who keeps popping up at just the right moments. Looming over their journey is the Spindle Witch, who cursed Briar Rose and his fallen kingdom. Vedder comes across as very self-aware of the clichés she is subverting. The unsatisfying ending is clearly a setup for sequels; nevertheless, the overall impression is charming, with lively adventure, likable characters, and a creative take on magic and witches. The romances between Fi and Briar and Shane and Red are passionate and fluttery but stay realistic by—pointedly—rejecting destiny. Fi and Shane face exciting, video game–like fights and puzzles during their quests, always doing their best to avoid killing people. In this fairy-tale world, being gay is satisfyingly unremarkable. Two of the protagonists read as White; the other two ambiguously have tan skin and dark hair, and background characters have a range of skin tones.

An enchanting read for fans of fairy-tale romance and girls with battle axes. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32582-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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