A fun, inventive superhero tale with a brave teenage girl at its heart.


Sadie Mae and Torene the Tornado


From the Teen Superhero Series series

This second book in the teen paranormal Legacy of Sadie Mae Stevens series introduces a new and dangerous foe for the crimson-tressed title character.

In the first installment (The Gordite Witch, 2012), Sadie Mae, a South Carolina teen with “pecan-brown skin and fiery red hair that for the life of her will not dye,” discovered her mother’s death when she was a child was actually the result of an interdimensional fight with a zombie sorceress known as the Gordite Witch. Christine Stevens wasn’t human but a Daughter of the Seas from the underwater planet Dylan. Like her mother, Sadie Mae possesses supercharged blood that allows her to produce toxic vapor from her hands and eyes that will crystallize into chains to bind the enemies of the Dylanians—the Tetradyne Rulers and their servants, the Pigwallers—and protect humans as well. She also has access to a magical forest all her own, where she’s mentored by a violet-eyed mountain named Lendra and trained by a human/frog hybrid called Norris. After avenging her mother’s death, Sadie Mae ignores a summons from Lendra about the imminent threat of Torene the Tornado in favor of hanging out with her part-Dylanian friends Jalind, Printa, and Harrah and foster parents Suzanna and Dr. Heathcliff Brimm. When Torene appears in Sadie Mae’s forest and kidnaps Norris, the heroine realizes she’s neglected her duties and put her family and friends in danger. As if that’s not enough, there’s a cute new boy named Lander Vandersal in school, and he won’t stop staring at Sadie. Miller (Promises Unbroken, 2015, etc.) delivers sentences that are often lacking in rhythm—“At best she hoped his hype would not end up turning into a weak distraction.” But the author’s imagination remains rich, with the denizens of Sadie Mae’s mystical forest far from the fantasy clichés of elves and dragons (they include graceful “baby dinosaur-sized” green creatures that look like turtles and turn out to be Siamese twins). Sadie Mae is a relatable protagonist who messes up mightily and must deal with the consequences of her actions. Ultimately, she’ll have to make an ethical decision that will challenge everything she’s learned.

A fun, inventive superhero tale with a brave teenage girl at its heart.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2016

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Dark, demanding, and delicious.


From the Hazel Wood series , Vol. 2.5

Twelve pitch-black original fairy tales form the backbone to an acclaimed fantasy series.

Fans of the Hazel Wood series know of Althea Proserpine’s cult anthology, the original stories whose characters escaped into our world. Featuring, among others, Hansa the Traveler, Twice-Killed Katherine, and, of course, Alice-Three-Times (whose tale’s much-speculated-about ending falls oddly flat), the stories feel both familiar—the first was already included in its entirety in the series opener and several others, in abbreviated and altered form—and revelatory, unfolding in all their rich, lush, macabre, and grisly glory. Despite their vaguely preindustrial Western European setting, these are anything but traditional folktales. While every protagonist is female, the themes are not explicitly feminist; rather, the overwhelming tone is savage, angry, bitter, and cruel. Most of the leads do achieve a vicious and vengeful sort of triumph, but only one even approaches a conventional happy ending. Relationships (exclusively heterosexual) are only an excuse for male lust, domination, and manipulation. Parents (especially mothers) are mostly neglectful, smothering, abusive…or dead. Death, often horrific death, is a constant presence, even as a literal character in several stories. Although this collection could well be read on its own, the unrelenting grimness can be wearying; it may be best appreciated for the context and commentary it offers for the preceding volumes. Tierney’s bold illustrations, many featuring stark, contrasting tones of red, black, and white, accentuate the mood. There is some diversity in skin tone.

Dark, demanding, and delicious. (Fairy tales. 16-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-30272-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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