A WIND IN THE DOOR

"It's not right in the United States of America that a little kid shouldn't be safe in school," but after hearing a sample of Meg and Charles Wallace Murry's conversation ("Do you suppose I'll ever be a double Ph.D. like you, Mother?") we suspect that their peers' dislike of them may be based on more than brute anti-intellectualism. Anyway, genius first-grader Charles Wallace is deeply involved with his mother's discovery of mitochondria and farandolae; in fact, he's suffering from mitochondritis, and his illness is an important part of the plans of the evil Echthroi who have torn a hole in the galaxy. A mystical teacher, Mr. Blajeny, and a cherubim Proginoskes warn Meg that to save her brother she must learn to love even the unsympathetic school principal Mr. Jenkins (who's kind of like Salinger's fat lady). Having accomplished this task and thereby successfully differentiated Mr. Jenkins from two Echthroi impersonators, Meg journeys with Calvin and Mr. Jenkin's fight down into Charles Wallace's cells to lecture his warring farandolae on "the great plan" and every organism's "unique share in the freedom of creation." The audacity of Ms. L'Engle's mytho-scientific imagination and her undoubted storytelling abilities keep the reader involved in Meg's quest, but one wonders whether its chief appeal doesn't lie in the all too natural desire to believe that our difficulties, like the Murrys', are personal attacks by the forces of cosmic evil — who doesn't like to speculate that their nasty old school principal is really an agent of the devil? Unfortunately, Meg learns to love the universe with unconvincing ease, and L'Engle seems to be straining unusually hard to relate what's wrong with America to the double-talk phenomenon of mitochondria and farandolae.

Pub Date: May 7, 1973

ISBN: 0374384436

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1973

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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