Grounded, likable characters with complex emotions anchor this excellent series installment.

GRAVENWOOD

BOOK TWO

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

ISBN: 978-0-9994492-4-0

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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