THE FITZOSBORNES IN EXILE

From the Montmaray Journals series , Vol. 2

Having narrowly escaped the Nazi bombing of their miniscule island kingdom, the young impoverished royal family of Montmaray is living in exile in England with their very wealthy aunt (A Brief History of Montmaray, 2008). Their lives have changed dramatically, as they are thrown unprepared into the world of upper-class society. But they also become embroiled in all the confusion of the perilous 1930s, speaking out against Fascism and appeasement and aiding children escaping from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, all the while attempting to get help in wresting their home back from the Germans. Princess Sophie’s voice is true and clear in her journal, with syntax and tone spot on, as she writes with compassion of the upheaval, changing family dynamics and her own emotional growth. The novel is, in Sophie's words, a combination of the “Awful Bits” and “things that successfully distract one from the Awful Bits” in a world that “has been wound up as far as it could go.” The lively, charming characters meet challenges with pluck and ingenuity as well as a great deal of humor. Will modern readers get all the references to the real events and people? Perhaps not, but it won't matter, because the information is woven seamlessly into the plot. Multilayered and engrossing, Cooper’s tale alternates between frothy fun and heartbreaking seriousness with utter mastery. (author's note) (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-85865-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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

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Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, 17, would rather perform autopsies in her uncle’s dark laboratory than find a suitable husband, as is the socially acceptable rite of passage for a young, white British lady in the late 1800s.

The story immediately brings Audrey into a fractious pairing with her uncle’s young assistant, Thomas Cresswell. The two engage in predictable rounds of “I’m smarter than you are” banter, while Audrey’s older brother, Nathaniel, taunts her for being a girl out of her place. Horrific murders of prostitutes whose identities point to associations with the Wadsworth estate prompt Audrey to start her own investigation, with Thomas as her sidekick. Audrey’s narration is both ponderous and polemical, as she sees her pursuit of her goals and this investigation as part of a crusade for women. She declares that the slain aren’t merely prostitutes but “daughters and wives and mothers,” but she’s also made it a point to deny any alignment with the profiled victims: “I am not going as a prostitute. I am simply blending in.” Audrey also expresses a narrow view of her desired gender role, asserting that “I was determined to be both pretty and fierce,” as if to say that physical beauty and liking “girly” things are integral to feminism. The graphic descriptions of mutilated women don’t do much to speed the pace.

Perhaps a more genuinely enlightened protagonist would have made this debut more engaging . (Historical thriller. 15-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-27349-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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