THE NAMED

Swashbuckling time-travel plus soap-opera relationships make for a page-turning start to a promised trilogy. The mysterious death of Ethan’s older sister when he was only four left his family a wreck: his mother hospitalized with depression, his father an emotional automaton, and Ethan subject to horrific nightmares. But for Ethan, his real life for the past 12 years has been with the Guardians of Time, in their eternal battle to prevent the Order of Chaos from disrupting the proper workings of history. After he’s assigned to train his schoolmate, Isabel, as his first Apprentice, an ancient prophecy gives the pair only a few short weeks to thwart Chaos’s top general in his assaults against the past, before the unfolding of an even more terrifying destiny. Protecting the time stream is hardly an innovative concept in fantastic fiction, but Curley pulls it off with panache. While the various historical periods are only perfunctorily limned, the ritualistic panoply of the Guard itself begs for further exploration. Cocky, loyal Ethan and self-confident Isabel are likable enough, but the real hook for teen readers will be their romantic entanglements. Isabel hides her lifelong crush on Ethan, as her older brother, once his best friend, seethes over Ethan’s attraction to his girlfriend; meanwhile, an unlikely character recognizes in the oblivious Isabel his own destined soulmate. Anguished heartbreak and suppressed longing are bound to continue to spice up the history-hopping sword-and-sorcery, making the sequels an ongoing guilty pleasure. (Fantasy. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58234-779-4

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger.

KINGDOM OF THE WICKED

From the Kingdom of the Wicked series , Vol. 1

A vengeful Sicilian witch forges an unlikely alliance resulting in epic, supernatural consequences.

Eighteen-year-old Emilia di Carlo and her twin sister, Vittoria, have a secret: They are streghe, trained from a young age to use magic. Emilia is as introverted and romantic as her sister is bold and irreverent, but they share a love of good food and a disregard for their grandmother’s warnings about the devil and his brothers. Known as the Malvagi or Wicked, the seven princes of Hell have not been seen in years until tragedy strikes and a foray into forbidden magic accidentally summons the Prince of Wrath: Three witches—including Vittoria—are dead, and Emilia is desperate to avenge her sister and stop the killings. An uneasy truce with Wrath soon blossoms into a tantalizing, dangerous attraction with an uneven power dynamic. Rich worldbuilding constructs a post-unification Kingdom of Italy in which witches, demons, and shape-shifters live—and battle—among oblivious humans in a society strongly influenced by the Catholic brotherhood in its midst. Several significant plot points unfold in a Capuchin monastery and its eerie catacombs, and the brotherhood's conflation of witchcraft with the devil is emphasized throughout. Most characters are cued as White—Emilia and her sister have brown eyes and hair and olive skin—while the dark-haired Wicked have golden skin.

An intoxicating, tightly plotted feast for the senses with a dramatic cliffhanger. (map) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42846-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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