This tightly-paced novel will leave readers demanding sequels that explore more of Anouk’s epic journeys.

GRIM LOVELIES

From the Grim Lovelies series , Vol. 1

Servants or saviors?

In a rich, magical world overlaid upon an unsuspecting present-day Paris, servant Anouk is one of five beasties, animals enchanted into human form, in the household of Mada Vittora. Unable to step foot outside the door, they gaze out of windows, observing the everyday lives of the Pretties (humans) while caring for the household. Anouk endures the daily cruelties of the woman she views as both mother and master. One night the beasties find Mada Vittora mysteriously murdered in her bedroom and decide to run. Anouk and her family now have three days from the death of the witch to find another magic handler who can either recast the spell or they will revert to the dark and fear-filled existence of their animal forms. This story is about family, discovery, and redefining yourself: Through her trials, Anouk transforms from a helpless servant to an empowered leader who discovers the true origins of the existence of beasties. Characters are diverse, including white, Asian, black, and brown-skinned individuals, and one character is transgender. In addition, the side tale of “The Swan Mirror,” a fairy tale told by one of the characters, is both well-integrated into the plot and trans-friendly.

This tightly-paced novel will leave readers demanding sequels that explore more of Anouk’s epic journeys. (Contemporary fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-80918-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A derivative mess.

ASHFALL LEGACY

A half alien teenager sets out for the stars in search of his missing dad.

In what rapidly devolves into a jumble of well-worn science-fiction tropes and typecast settings glued together by adolescent behavior and muddy thinking, the story follows 16-year-old Sydney, who has been on the lam with his gun-toting default-White human mom for 10 years. Syd meets and agrees to join his alien uncle on a training voyage to planet Denza, where he can take classes at the local star fleet academy and find his father, who vanished on an exploratory voyage years before. Syd discovers that all humans become super strong and super tough when they leave Earth—but die when they return. Might his father have come upon a cure hidden among the relics of a…wait for it…mysterious race of vanished galactic overlords? In his typically unsubtle way, the pseudonymous Lore chucks discrimination into the mix too—being a “mutt,” as one hostile shipmate put it, Syd gets a decidedly mixed reception from the specist Denzans, and a fellow hybrid angrily informs him that she identifies as human. Before arbitrarily cutting off midway through, the climax collapses into a glutinous mass of revelations including the fate of Syd’s father and the nature of the aforementioned overlords. Oh, and there are space monsters and a magic ring.

A derivative mess. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284536-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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