With a face devoid of most expression and seemingly locked into a permanent grimace, the Barbarian Lord maintains “the...



A mix of Icelandic lore and Norse mythology—and maybe a smattering of the Incredible Hulk—makes up this action-packed adventure of the barrel-chested Barbarian Lord’s struggle to defeat his skull-headed enemy.

With a face devoid of most expression and seemingly locked into a permanent grimace, the Barbarian Lord maintains “the finest farm in Garmrland.” Aided by a ruthless but somewhat hapless witch, nefarious neighbor Skullmaster seeks to destroy him and take over that farm. As the two lock horns in a power play, the Barbarian Lord finds himself battling a variety of foes, from sea monsters to ghosts to trolls. Though the lines between good and evil are distinctly drawn, the Barbarian Lord is a complicated kind of hero who certainly doesn’t shy away from killing (or impaling or slashing…) any opponent who dares cross his path; his personal motto seems to be “[t]here is more honor in battle than in trickery.” This plot is nothing if not action-driven, the multitudinous battle scenes and abundant swordplay (and excellent sound effects) making this an excellent choice for readers interested in Game of Thrones but who perhaps aren’t quite ready for some of its more mature subject matter. An intriguing and interesting mix of mythology, folklore and fantasy makes for what is in effect a graphic-novel introduction to the sword-and-sorcery genre. (author’s note) (Graphic fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-85906-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.


From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.


From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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