An interesting premise, likable characters, and high adventure carry this novel, but it is difficult to see it becoming a...

READ REVIEW

NOCTURNA

Crown Prince Alfie has unwittingly unleashed an evil god that must be recaptured before it destroys the kingdom of Castallan.

Unable to come to terms with the death of his older brother, Prince Alfie has traveled the world, searching and failing to find magic that will bring Dez back. Back home, uncertain of his fitness to be the new crown prince and still trying to find the elusive magic, he meets Finn, a thief with a rough background, a sassy tongue, and the ability to change her facial features to resemble others’. When his cousin is poisoned, Alfie—an inexperienced bruxo—improbably releases a god that has been bound for centuries by the combined magic of the finest bruxos. Will the cousin be saved? Will the kingdom? Unless he is recaptured, the god of darkness, Sombra, will cast darkness over the world and bring about Nocturna. Debut author Motayne has created two likable and well-fleshed-out characters in Alfie and Finn but has failed to do the same for the world upon which the novel rests. Tequila, sangria, flan, and the peso are but crumbs standing in for worldbuilding. Other characters in the novel are as sketchily described as their world.

An interesting premise, likable characters, and high adventure carry this novel, but it is difficult to see it becoming a trilogy without a backbone to hold it up. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-284273-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

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

Did you like this book?

more