Enthralling, agonizing and incandescent.

THE WINNER'S CRIME

From the Winner's Trilogy series , Vol. 2

The middle entry in a fantasy trilogy brings new players to the game while exponentially raising the stakes.    

Lady Kestrel has successfully bargained for limited independence for the Herrani people, but only at the price of her own freedom. Now betrothed to the feckless Imperial heir, she risks even more as a spy, while managing to convince everyone—most particularly Arin, once her slave, then her captor, now governor of Herran—of her ruthless devotion to tyrannical Valorian dominion. The twisty plot is a cleverly constructed puzzle box of intrigue and deceit, couched in graceful prose that shifts from restrained to voluptuous. The diversity both between and within the various cultures suggests a richly detailed world; yet as the fate of peoples, kingdoms and empires hangs in the balance, the conflict plays out at the most intimate personal level in the reluctant, dangerous, impossible attraction between Kestrel and Arin. Her ferocious intelligence and his blazing integrity demand sympathy and allegiance even when the intense yearning, distrust, rejections and betrayals become almost too painful to bear. As positions harden and blood is shed, their destruction at each other’s hands looms ever more certain; but a desperate hope that somehow disaster can be averted propels readers to the final devastating page, leaving only the excruciating wait for the sequel.

Enthralling, agonizing and incandescent. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-38470-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Thrilling from start to finish.

FOUL LADY FORTUNE

Her code name: Fortune. Her purpose: atonement.

Four years ago, in 1927, Rosalind Lang betrayed her gang. Her actions nearly led to Shanghai’s destruction. When scarlet fever swept through the city soon after, Rosalind was saved by a mysterious serum that left her with a nearly indestructible body trapped at age 19. Now, as penance, she hunts rogue White Flowers for the Nationalists who are embroiled in a civil war with the Communists and face a potential invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army. When the Nationalists connect a string of murders in Shanghai to a local newspaper published by the Japanese government–funded Seagreen Press, Rosalind is given a new mission and a partner: Orion Hong, the younger son of a Nationalist general. Posing as newlyweds, they infiltrate Seagreen and discover a web of false identities, undercover agents, and national traitors. Heart-pounding action and intrigue fill the pages of this thriller, set in a time when people’s allegiances are questioned at every turn and families are divided along stark political lines; Orion’s brother and Rosalind’s trans sister both serve the Communist cause. Friction between the grimly determined Rosalind and carefree Orion shifts into mutual understanding and then something more as demisexual Rosalind allows herself to see past Orion’s facade. An enjoyable cast of supporting characters adds levity and surprising twists. This series opener set in the world of Gong’s These Violent Delights duology is accessible to new readers.

Thrilling from start to finish. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66590-558-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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