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

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

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?

“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots.

ASH PRINCESS

From the Ash Princess series , Vol. 1

The daughter of a murdered queen plots to take back what is hers.

With her country seized and her mother, the Fire Queen of Astrea, murdered by invaders when she was only 6 years old, Theodosia has been a prisoner for 10 years, stripped of her crown, her people enslaved. Theo (renamed Thora by her captors) is at the mercy of the Kaiser—the fearsome ruler of the Kalovaxians—enduring his malicious whims in order to survive. But when the Kaiser forces Theo to execute her own father, survival is no longer good enough, and she finally takes up the mantle of queen to lead her people’s rise to resistance in a land saturated in elemental magic. Debut author Sebastian has invigorated some well-worn fantasy tropes (a displaced heir, an underground rebellion, and a love triangle that muddies the distinctions between enemies and allies), delivering a narrative that crackles with political intrigue, powerful and debilitating magic, and the violent mechanisms of colonization even as it leaves sequel-primed gaps. Some details—like Theo’s crisis of identity and Hamletian indecision—work well to submerge readers in a turbulent and enthralling plot; others, like racialized descriptions that fall short of actual representation (Atreans are dark-haired and olive-skinned, Kalovaxians are blond and pale-skinned) and the use of magic-induced madness for narrative shock and awe feel lazy and distracting among more nuanced elements.

“Cinderella” but with genocide and rebel plots. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6706-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more