A bleak and brooding contemporary fantasy that sells magic short.


From the Wren Hunt series , Vol. 2

An outsider encounters a secret magical war in this sequel to The Wren Hunt (2018).

Zara’s family is unraveling following the unexplained (perhaps inexplicable) death of her older sister, Laila, in their new home, the Irish village of Kilshamble. Zara has few friends and soon earns enemies as she haphazardly attempts to solve her sister’s mysterious last days and death. Brown-skinned Zara’s isolated, not set apart from the mostly white residents because of her parents’ South African background but because of her mundanity and humanity. Wading through grief and guilt, Zara stumbles on the secret war between the manipulative magic-wielding augurs and militant judges—feuding descendants of the semi-Druidic draoithe—and repeatedly crosses paths with neighbor David. Spurred on by his father and a “black-and-white vision of the world,” white 18-year-old David simultaneously competes to succeed his disgraced brother, Oisín, as the judges’ War Scythe and searches for a missing, potentially apocalypse-triggering, item. Swerving between Zara’s grieving process and the erratically escalating draoithe guerilla war, the unevenly paced plot gets bogged down by extraneous details and side plots. Watson exhaustively explores the protagonists’ current angst and agony but offers minimal backstories for the characters and vague and contradictory mythology for the draoithe. Zara’s family is cued as being of Indian Muslim heritage.

A bleak and brooding contemporary fantasy that sells magic short. (glossary) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0194-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.


A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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