THE RING AND THE CROWN

From the Ring and the Crown series , Vol. 1

Readers captivated by the setting may enjoy this novel-length setup; they will hope for more plot in the next installment.

The lives of five teens intersect in turn-of-the-20th-century London, the capital of the Franco-British Empire.

Aelwyn Myrddin, daughter of the Merlin, the magical power behind the throne, has just returned from exile in Avalon. Princess Marie-Victoria, sickly daughter of the 150-year-old Queen Eleanor, reluctantly awaits her marriage to Leopold, Kronprinz of Prussia and wielder of the magical weapon that brought the mighty empire to its knees. Wolf—short for Wolfgang—Leopold’s rapscallion younger brother, has just boarded the Saturnia, on his way to London from New York. Ronan Astor, beautiful scion of the impoverished colonial family, is also on the Saturnia, hoping to snag a rich, titled lord. And Isabelle de Valois, whose family would rule France had the British not defeated the witch Jeanne of Arkk 500 years earlier, heads across the channel to salvage her engagement to Leopold. Intrigue and heartbreak ensue. De la Cruz effectively plaits real-world history together with what-ifs both magical and political to create a fizzy period soap opera. So much attention has been spent on worldbuilding, in fact, that the actual plot takes forever to start and then resolves both abruptly and all too conveniently. Moreover, incompletely explained inconsistencies with regard to the length of Aelwyn’s exile will drive some readers crazy.

Readers captivated by the setting may enjoy this novel-length setup; they will hope for more plot in the next installment. (Historical fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5742-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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