This medieval love story and its memorable heroine are likely to resonate with contemporary teens.

ALCHEMY'S DAUGHTER

When a headstrong, intellectually curious 17-year-old living in 1344 San Gimignano, Italy, becomes a midwife’s apprentice, she embarks on a harrowing journey to discover her true vocation.

While her sisters focus on marrying appropriate husbands, Santina’s besotted with Calandrino, a brilliant but poor scholar. After Santina’s father discovers that she and Calandrino are in love, he dismisses the scholar, who departs for Spain to pursue his alchemy studies, promising Santina they will meet again. Distraught, Santina turns to the local midwife, who urges her to forget Calandrino and do something useful with her life. Against her father’s wishes, Santina works as the midwife’s apprentice until the midwife’s accused of witchcraft. Fearing for her safety, Santina abandons midwifery and reluctantly agrees to marry an arrogant jewel merchant, though she secretly corresponds with Calandrino. When plague strikes, Santina nurses the afflicted, enraging her fiance, who accuses her of witchcraft, forcing her to flee in a surprising finale. Brimming with details of life in Italy during the plague of 1348, this well-researched story incorporates historical information about medieval alchemy, midwifery, and the conflict between science and superstition, providing a rich context and arresting contrast for Santina’s thoroughly modern attitudes.

This medieval love story and its memorable heroine are likely to resonate with contemporary teens. (maps, historical timeline, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-936181-17-9

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Lake Street Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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

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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A dark and enthralling journey.

VESPERTINE

In a land threatened by violent spirits, a girl with a haunted past unleashes an ancient entity from a holy relic and strikes a deal for the power to save her home.

Ever since the Sorrow, the dead no longer pass on peacefully. Without the intervention of the Clerisy of the Gray Lady, they roam as destructive spirits. Artemisia of Naimes, gifted with the ability to see the spirits, never intends to leave her convent, where the walls protect her from possession and (Lady forbid) social interaction. Her plans crumble when a group of possessed soldiers attack her home. Reluctantly, Artemisia unseals a legendary relic, binding herself to a revenant, an undead being with immense power. Untrained in controlling spirits and desperate to protect her home, she bargains with the revenant to help her. Amid escalating danger and an unfolding mystery, Rogerson unveils a grim and intriguing world with a rich, plot-relevant history inspired by late-medieval France. In addition to the White protagonist, the narration describes several secondary characters with brown skin; the revenant is identified as “it,” while human characters in this world adhere to a gender binary. Artemisia experiences dynamic character growth as her understandings of trauma, history, and morality shift. Although she remains socially avoidant, she learns to value friendship. A satisfying but open-ended resolution demands for the story to continue.

A dark and enthralling journey. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7711-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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