TROUBADOUR

Intertwining narratives of the 13th century add up to less than the sum of their parts. Elinor, gawky daughter of Occitanian lord, nurses a crush on the much older troubadour Bertran; horrified at the prospect of expedient marriage, she runs away disguised as boy joglar. Bertran, meanwhile, carries a dangerous secret; himself a “heretic” Believer, he has witnessed the murder of the Pope’s legate and must carry warnings of impending war to the sympathetic nobles of southern France. As Elinor gradually matures from self-centered pubescent to a self-assured poet, patroness and wife, her tale alternates with Bertran’s perspective on the brutal Albigensian Crusade. This second story is far more compelling, with its serpentine politics and naked ambition masked by piety on every side, but it suffers from a confusing overload of names and places and battles. While Elinor’s adventures are more straightforward, she tends only to react to the choices of her companions and the rush of events. The plots finally intersect, but with less of a climax than a dispirited sputter. Serviceable, but it could have been so much more. (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59990-367-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

THE NOBLEMAN'S GUIDE TO SCANDAL AND SHIPWRECKS

From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

CHAIN OF THORNS

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 3

Fiendishly romantic from start to (eventual) finish.

Belial, Prince of Hell, makes his move on London in this trilogy closer.

With 11 ensemble characters (not counting the odd Greater Demon) to juggle, Clare uses up most of her chunky page count untangling the romantic snarls of the first two volumes—plus chucking in occasional attacks by lesser demons or raving maniac Tatiana Blackthorn to give her demon-slaying Edwardian-era Nephilim something to do besides steamily tonguing one another, lengthily weltering in secret longing and self-loathing, or (at last!) explicitly consummating their ardor. The angular figures posing stiffly in Curte’s randomly scattered tableaux do little to either raise or turn down the heat of a narrative that runs to lines like: “He was about to crush his lips to Alastair’s…when a scream split the air. The scream of someone in anguished pain.” Eventually Belial does get around to launching his evil scheme to take over London and then the world despite already bleeding from two wounds previously dealt by legendary magic sword Cortana. The love matches among the tight circle of friends are notably diverse, involving couples whose various members include some who are part Indian or Persian, those who are gay or straight, and even the formerly undead. The book closes with a tidying-up epilogue and even a bonus story, “Aught but Death,” which focuses on Cordelia and Lucie.

Fiendishly romantic from start to (eventual) finish. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9781481431934

Page Count: 800

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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