Combining the timeless allure of action and young-love romance with the historically accurate and turbulent life of the...

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CARAVAGGIO

SIGNED IN BLOOD

Late Renaissance Italy comes to life in this upper-middle-grade novel featuring the painter Caravaggio and a young friend.

Fifteen-year-old Beppo, sold two years earlier into indentured servitude by his debt-ridden stepfather to an unsavory wine merchant, doesn’t think he can get any more miserable. But then the wine merchant is murdered, and Beppo is wrongly accused. He runs away and, searching for a safe place to hide, stumbles into a brawl between the famous (and famously temperamental) painter Caravaggio and the man who actually committed the murder. Beppo and the wounded Caravaggio flee together and, as the story’s adventures continue, form a strong friendship. While Beppo is a fictitious character, Caravaggio is not. Narrated by Beppo, the story stays true to what is known about Caravaggio’s tumultuous life (with a few details chronologically reordered, a license addressed in the appended historical note). Rich and copious details of early-17th-century Italian life—how medicinal herbs are used, how paint pigments are mixed and canvases stretched, how to fight with a sword, and Caravaggio’s (purported) use of the camera obscura to paint his distinctive paintings, among many others—give great depth and validity to the narrative. Beppo’s happy-ending romantic storyline adds additional appeal.

Combining the timeless allure of action and young-love romance with the historically accurate and turbulent life of the painter Caravaggio, this story succeeds on all levels. (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-896580-05-0

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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