LAKESEDGE

A girl makes a deal with the devil to save a monster.

Seventeen-year-old Violeta Graceling and her 13-year-old brother, Arien, live with Mother, their adopted parent. Arien is consumed by a dark magic that frightens Mother, whose fear manifests itself as horrific abuse. When the village landowner, Lord Rowan Sylvanan (also known as the Monster of Lakesedge for murdering his family), comes to take Arien away to use his magic, Violeta demands to accompany them. Rowan wants Arien to use his power to help fight the Corruption, a dark force that threatens to consume the entire kingdom. When their attempts fail, Violeta makes a desperate deal with the devilish deity the Lord Under in order to save those she loves. Predictably, Violeta falls for Rowan. She learns that his monstrous moniker may not be what it seems: While he is mysterious and moody, their romance quickly ratchets from bickering to swooning to positively incendiary. Clipstone’s gothic fantasy has nods to “Beauty and the Beast” and the myth of Persephone. While at times this novel can feel a bit formulaic, dark fantasy and romance fans will likely overlook this, getting lost in the layered drama and romance. Most characters are assumed White; a secondary character is queer.

Brooding and atmospheric. (Dark fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-75339-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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