A richly detailed coming-of-age fantasy epic that rewards the patient and contemplative reader.

READ REVIEW

THE BEAST PLAYER

Can humans bridge the gulf that separates them from beasts? Is it love that binds all sentient life—or fear?

In this translation of the first entry in international-award–winning Japanese author Uehashi’s (Moribito, 2014, etc.) hit series, 10-year-old Elin idolizes her mother, a skilled beast doctor for Toda, fearsome battle serpents. When some Toda die mysteriously, Elin’s mother is sentenced to death. Elin escapes and finds a kind beekeeper in the mountains who raises her as his own. As she grows into adulthood, she discovers her love for all living creatures and a unique gift for communicating with the magical Royal Beasts. But the nation’s political structure is fragile. Soon Elin is thrust into deadly civil conflict and must decide whether to use her beloved animal friends as tools of war. The author creates complex societies and fantastical creatures with imaginative, immersive detail. In a refreshing change for Western readers, the central issue hinges on neither individual power nor romantic love but kindness balanced against responsibility, and the narrative jumps among the perspectives of numerous characters in a more digressive style than they may be accustomed to. It’s lovely to watch Elin blossom from a quiet, curious child into a compassionate, thoughtful young woman with a steadfast moral compass—even if that compass sometimes leads her astray.

A richly detailed coming-of-age fantasy epic that rewards the patient and contemplative reader. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30746-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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?

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more