by Marjory Kaptanoglu ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 27, 2020
Grounded, likable characters with complex emotions anchor this excellent series installment.
Awards & Accolades
Three heroes seek an artifact that will reverse the effects of harmful magic in this medieval YA fantasy sequel.
Following the events of Dreadmarrow Thief (2017), teenage Tessa Skye of Sorrenwood is under a spell of subservience and engaged to Lord Turth of Turthville as the new Lady of Fellstone Castle, where she now lives. Meanwhile, her friend Calder Osric lives with and watches over Tessa’s mother, Faline, outside the castle; she still believes herself to be a sparrow after having used the windrider amulet to change between human and bird forms. When Tessa stops visiting her mom—and doesn’t invite her to the wedding—Calder sneaks into Fellstone to investigate. He convinces the sexton’s son, Ash Kemp, who loves Tessa dearly, to help him break Turth’s hold on the girl. A blow to the head frees her, and the three ride to Blackgrove to ask the Conjurer Lord Queshire for assistance in opening the locked Conjurer’s Book of Incantations. The book, Tessa hopes, contains a way to cure her mother. In Blackgrove, Queshire instructs them to find the Gravenwood, an engraved tablet that can “undo the effects of a magical spell” and allow “someone with no conjuring ability to steal the powers of a conjurer.” Tessa agrees on the condition that Queshire train her in conjuring—and therefore the manipulative statesman has the desperate heroes right where he wants them. After a brief setup, Kaptanoglu puts her heroes straight through the wringer in this sequel; Tessa, Calder, and Ash are later separated and must survive imprisonment, pirates, and conniving relatives. Ash's and Calder’s chapters are written in the third person, but it’s Tessa’s first-person chapters that truly shine. While she’s under the spell, for instance, she notes at dinner that Turth’s “scent was intoxicating, though the nearby platter of bacon might’ve had something to do with it.” Calder faces a deep emotional quandary because he fears that Faline won’t need him once she’s cured. An eleventh-hour twist emphasizes the elegance of Kaptanoglu’s plotting, and the final line will make readers eager for the next volume.Grounded, likable characters with complex emotions anchor this excellent series installment.
Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2020
Page Count: 258
Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Brandon Sanderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 21, 2023
A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms!
Hotshot pilot Spensa Nightshade completes her apotheosis in this series closer, as human rebels and their alien allies mount a climactic assault on the galactic empire.
Having progressed from eating rats to being a cytonic superwarrior, Spensa is bonded by ties of loyalty and lust to former Skyward Flight leader, now Defiant Defense Force admiral, Jorgen—and also to a traumatized, planet-killing, interdimensional delver named Chet. Spensa would be well on her way to full-blown pacifism if the Superiority’s war of extermination against humans were not ramping up to a newly active phase. Nothing for it but a massive space battle, complete with dogfights, huge explosions, feints, betrayals, and tragic sacrifices…not to mention a swarm of ravenous, vacuum-dwelling vastworms eager to chow down on both sides. Though slowed by Spensa’s and others’ wrestling with conflicting impulses and weighing moral imperatives, the plot features more than enough large- and small-scale action set pieces to please space-opera fans. Better yet, the deliciously expansive cast includes not only humans and AIs but a broad array of aliens and semi-aliens from blue-skinned humanoids and a furry, haiku-reciting, fox-gerbil samurai with a (wait for it) laser sword to sentient crystals and empathic slugs. “The more different types of people we got into the flight, the stronger it would be,” Spensa reflects, and indeed, it’s collective action that proves decisive in the end.A grand finale, presented with a touch light enough to buoy all the self-actualization. Also: giant space worms! (Science fiction. 12-15)
Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2023
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023
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by Rebecca Ross ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2023
Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.
A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.
In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Pub Date: April 4, 2023
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023
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