Conniving adults can’t halt first love in this glowing fantasy tale.

READ REVIEW

ILLUSIONS

This debut YA novel sees a stage magician’s apprentice struggle with secrets as a handsome rogue enters his life.

It is 1898, and 16-year-old Londoner Thomas Pendleton longs to attend Oxford and write poetry. Instead, at the behest of his parents, he’s become an apprentice to magician Neville Wighton the Great. The two have mastered an illusion in which Neville leaps out into the audience only to vanish in midair and reappear in a private box above. This shocking feat has gained the attention of Paolo il Magnifico, another illusionist, who’s astounded that the veteran Neville has achieved a late-career bloom. Paolo sends his own rakish assistant, 19-year-old Saverio Moretti, to learn the trick’s secret. Sav encounters Thomas in Manchester Square and questions “the way he stared, the way he fumbled for words.” Indeed, Thomas is attracted to the good-looking young man, though for the sake of his family’s finances, he’s been courting wealthy Amelia Ashdown. The romantically experienced Sav pursues the naïve teen, pretending to be a tailor’s apprentice and reporting on Neville’s act to Paolo. Sav doesn’t intend to fall in love—nor can he imagine that Thomas possesses hidden powers over movement and light. Can either young man escape the deceitful webs spun by the adults in their lives? Struck through with late-Victorian charm, Reynolds’ novel is an intimate combination of romance and fantasy. Presented as diary entries, chapters alternate between the viewpoints of Thomas and Sav, and deft portraiture reveals Neville as a cruel master (His smile “looked...wrong, like a puzzle piece that was forced into a spot where it was not meant to fit”). Amelia, unfortunately, spends much of the narrative in the background despite her dramatic potential. But the author triumphs elsewhere, convincing readers of Sav’s caddish ways and then immersing them in Thomas’ earnest passion for poetry (he initially recites Shakespearean sonnets). Romance fans should love the emotional seesaw that carries through to a clever final deception, one that brings frightening social realism to this lightly magical tale.

Conniving adults can’t halt first love in this glowing fantasy tale.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64063-563-0

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

MALICE

This YA SF novel features a teen who must halt a virus that will kill two-thirds of humanity.

In Silver Oak, Maryland, Alice Sherman is a high school junior enjoying lunch near her campus basketball court. With her is Archie, her brother, a senior and science prodigy who likes equations more than his fellow students. Alice has been Archie’s one true friend since their mother left six years ago. Alice is about to catch up with Lalana Bunyasarn, her best friend, when a sudden “streak of electricity zaps through” her head. The agony intensifies until a Voice enters Alice’s mind, asking her, “Do you want this pain to stop?” The Voice then instructs her to go up to Bandit Sakda, a classmate playing basketball, and say that she loves him. Bandit is a beautiful Thai boy who’s talented and arrogant. Strangely, the Voice calls her Malice and says not to fall for him because “it’ll only make what you have to do later harder.” Eventually, Alice learns that the Voice belongs to someone from 10 years in the future who needs help saving humanity. A virus will be created by a person Alice knows that will wipe out two-thirds of the world population. Following the Voice’s directions can save everyone—except the person Alice is ordered to kill. Dunn’s (Star-Crossed, 2018, etc.) latest YA adventure offers increasingly tantalizing twists that gleam in succession like nested matryoshka dolls. Alice will charm readers with her quirks, especially her devotion to Chris Hemsworth of Marvel’s Avengers films. Tension builds as characters in the large cast, including crushworthy Zeke Cain and the brilliant Cristela Ruiz, become potential targets for Alice’s mission. Details about Thai culture add a splendid dimension to the narrative; for example, Bandit is pronounced “bun-dit” and means “one who is wise.” While the notion of a high school killer may not sit well with some, the author doesn’t use the device lightly. Her book takes a strong anti-bullying stance, doing so through an entertaining narrative that doesn’t resort to preaching. The author’s heart and craftiness make a sequel welcome.

Well-drawn characters and playful twists keep this thriller fully charged.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64063-412-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more