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THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE

If this book isn’t quite a masterpiece, it’s certainly a treasure, and that’s more than enough.

Is it fair to expect a masterpiece when Gaiman and Riddell work together? Probably.

The two men have collaborated on a number of books published in the U.K., to great success. The illustrations in Fortunately, the Milk are a marvel of draftsmanship, and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are considered classics. Other artists illustrated the books in the U.S., quite beautifully, but the British editions are objects of envy for many fans. This new collaboration is a spectacular art object. Almost every page is decorated with gold leaf. Even the page numbers have gold filigree. The story combines two fairy tales, and it contains two startling ideas. Snow White, after years in a sleeping spell, might not be affected by the enchantment placed on Sleeping Beauty. And, more important, after her adventures in the woods, Snow White might find sitting on a throne as dull as lying in a glass coffin. The villainess, unfortunately, distracts from those ideas. She’s just another sorceress in a fantasy book, one in a long line of evildoers who want youth and power—but this is a fairy tale, after all. The gorgeous, art nouveau–inspired black-and-white drawings, many of which seem to consciously echo such divergent talents as Arthur Rackham and Robert Lawson, however, are magnificent, and a few sentences describing sleepwalkers who speak in unison may haunt readers for years.

If this book isn’t quite a masterpiece, it’s certainly a treasure, and that’s more than enough. (Fairy tale. 11-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-239824-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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