A divine debut that explores the glories of West African myth, religion, and history.

SKIN OF THE SEA

From the Of Mermaids and Orisa series , Vol. 1

A mermaid seeks to appease the Supreme Creator after a rescue attempt goes awry.

Saved by the goddess Yemoja and turned into Mami Wata, a mermaid charged with granting safe passage to the souls of enslaved people who are thrown into the sea, Simidele, a teenager with brown skin and eyes and dark curls, still holds the memories of her family and life on land even though she is now one with the water and its creatures. When Simi instead saves the life of a boy who is thrown overboard, she unwittingly enters into dangerous intrigue. She must return to land, suffering shooting pain in the soles of her feet as she travels in her human form, to save lives from the cruel machinations of a power-hungry god. Excellent pacing moves readers through action-packed introductions to the brilliance and power of surprisingly down-to-earth orisas—Yoruba gods and goddesses—along with other deeply empathetic characters, each combating in their own way the trauma and horrors of the emerging slave trade. The vibrant focus on West African religious traditions organically enriches beloved, familiar elements—like another well-known mermaid, Simi will turn to seafoam if she acts on her love for a human—in a story bursting with innovative inspiration, such as maps braided into hair that showcase West African civilizations’ mathematical prowess.

A divine debut that explores the glories of West African myth, religion, and history. (author's note, content note, further reading) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12094-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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