The relatable, refreshingly non-Caucasian protagonist will take readers on an action-packed cultural adventure.

THE 2012 PROPHECIES

HEIR OF THE JAGUAR

The world seems to be on the brink of destruction, as the Maya people might have predicted, and its fate might just rest on the shoulders of a single teenage boy in Simone’s debut young-adult thriller.

As far as Cory McClintock knows, he’s a normal kid. The only thing distinguishing him is that, when he was a baby, his father adopted him from a Maya woman who had begged him to take care of her son. One day, when Cory arrives home from school, he discovers his dad unconscious and bleeding; Cory is immediately kidnapped at gunpoint by Culebra, a man claiming to be his uncle, who takes him to Guatemala. According to Culebra, Cory is the latest in a line of Maya kings who have the ability to reshape the world in the last days of the Maya calendar, a time of planetary upheaval and rebirth. Culebra plans on sacrificing him on an altar, thus taking Cory’s power for himself. Simone has crafted a taut novel that’s impressive for its razor-edge suspense as well as its verisimilitude. Written in first-person present tense, the prose is incredibly tight, sharp and intelligent. Cory never comes across as anything less than a fully believable young man, despite the bizarre circumstances in which he finds himself. His attempts to escape his uncle’s clutches provide nail-biting suspense. Given the novel’s title, one might expect an exploitation of ancient culture, but Simone’s tale has the utmost respect for Maya civilization as the narrative spins a sensationalist tale out of a modern interpretation. The story ultimately illuminates Maya beliefs, while managing to pay homage to pop culture’s apocalyptic interpretation.

The relatable, refreshingly non-Caucasian protagonist will take readers on an action-packed cultural adventure.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1463567330

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2012

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THE BANISHED

In a prequel to The Ice Bear (1986), Siri’s people live in the frozen Starkland settlement, residing peacefully with the primitive Furfolk, who communicate by whuffles and grunts. Siri’s Uncle Thorvald plans to convince the king to rescind their people’s banishment to that remote arctic isle with the gift of an ice bear and its cubs. To do this he needs the help of his friend, a Furfolk man, who can handle the bear on the long sea journey; Siri accompanies them disguised as one of the Furfolk man’s children. But when the king insists that the Furfolk man stay with the bear, Thorvald is forced to betray his friend for the sake of his people, while Siri chooses to betray Thorvald for her new Furfolk friends. Her allegiances have shifted during the course of the journey, and in the end it is left unclear whether her people will try to destroy the Furfolk, and what Siri can do to stop them. This complex, atmospheric morality tale offers no easy answers, and takes place in a world that is alien and exotic. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16602-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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A fast-paced, satisfying capper to a trilogy that’s sure to enchant fans of adventure-driven fantasy.

THE RAVEN GOD

LEGENDS OF ORKNEY

Sam and his brave friends must rally to defend Orkney in the final installment of Adams’ (The Red Sun, 2015, etc.) YA fantasy series.

Thirteen-year-old Sam has settled into his “witch-boy” life in Orkney, still wracked with guilt that he killed his father, the powerful god Odin, while under the sway of another. When Odin’s wife, Queen Frigga, appears, she carries the message that Odin is in the dangerous underworld and that he must be found—fast. His death has torn the veil protecting Orkney, and the mischief-maker Loki is stirring up civil war in a plot to seek revenge on Odin for cursing his wife and children. But the quest will not be easy: Sam will need his imp friend, Mavery; the spunky witch, Perrin; and his friends Leo, Howie, and Keely if he’s going to accept the challenge. As Orkney prepares for an attack from Surt, lord of the fire world, Sam is given a toy ship that holds more magic than it appears; meanwhile, Keely must convince a king that his people need not go to war, while Howie finds ways to be clever as he stays behind to defend Orkney. The shape-shifting Loki impedes them at every turn, and Sam will be asked to make sacrifices, test his memory, and, above all, forgive himself (“I’m just a kid who found himself making all kinds of mistakes before he figured out who he was”). The overarching feud between Odin and Loki makes a nice framework for a novel that sprawls across multiple worlds, characters, and adventures. Witty dialogue keeps the story buoyant, and there’s also thoughtful worldbuilding, with every colorful setting making the fictional universe more fully realized. There’s also no shortage of captivating magic, from spells to powerful pendants, as well as a variety of mythical creatures. More than 20 characters appear in the first 50 pages, though, so readers should tackle the first two novels in the trilogy first—especially if they want to savor the emotionally tender ending.

A fast-paced, satisfying capper to a trilogy that’s sure to enchant fans of adventure-driven fantasy.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943006-36-6

Page Count: 344

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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