Mind-bending and incisive.

WHAT WE DEVOUR

In a declining world in which humans can access the power of banished demigods through self-sacrifice, a girl with a secret becomes a catalyst for change.

Long ago, the humans who served and sacrificed to the Noble and the Vile overthrew them and claimed their magic. Now, the Crown, peerage, and common council maintain control over the noblewrought and vilewrought with intricate contracts and magical bindings. Lorena is the only living dualwrought—possessing both creative and destructive wrights—besides the Crown herself. Unlike the Crown, she’s unbound and untrained. Free from the limitations of formal contracts, Lorena prefers nonphysical sacrifices like memories over gory self-mutilation. After a chance encounter with the Crown’s infamous vilewrought heir, Alistair, lands her in his laboratory researching a mysterious Door that is hungry for human sacrifices, Lorena must choose between the quiet life she’s built and the values she holds dear. The text’s anti-capitalist thrust is grounded in depictions of extreme economic stratification, including Lorena’s memories of childhood poverty and her mother’s untimely death, as well as her growing awareness of how those who crave power like hers don’t grasp the sacrifices required. Excellent asexual representation in Lorena, rich worldbuilding, political intrigue, and a cast of prickly, passionate characters round out the satisfyingly complex plot. Particularly masterful are the shifts in Lorena’s narrative perspective that reflect the sacrifices of significant memories. A White default is assumed for primary characters.

Mind-bending and incisive. (map) (Dark fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7925-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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