From the House of the Dead Duology series , Vol. 1

Neither spectacular nor unbearable.

Take a dash of The Walking Dead, a soupçon of Game of Thrones, and mix in a ’90s goth.

In the Dominions, smithing makes and breaks nations. Long extinct ghostsmiths raised the dead, recently eradicated ironsmiths mined too deeply and rediscovered those undead revenants, and in the wake of that cataclysm, the bonesmiths, who utilize dead bone to fight the dead, rose. Impetuous Wren, an heir to the House of Bone, makes bad decisions in hopes of holding her father’s attention. As a result, she’s exiled to the Border Wall that holds back the dead—only to make another bad decision and take off without support to rescue a kidnapped prince. Ending up reluctantly allied with (not-so-extinct) ironsmith Julian, Wren becomes wiser and more moderate through the adventure and the tentative slow-growth friendship they share. Julian is also a teen with deep-seated family issues. Their journey uncovers new plots and players in the power dynamics of the Dominions, mostly revealed late in the game and making this feel almost like an extended prologue for the next volume. An overabundance of exposition alongside a lack of nuance in Wren’s characterization don’t do the story any favors, but eventually the original elements pull ahead. This, combined with the lack of resolution, means readers who make it past the slow start will be left with questions that can only be answered by the subsequent volume. Characters are diverse in appearance; race seems immaterial in this world.

Neither spectacular nor unbearable. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781665910590

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


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

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


A dark and gripping feminist tale.

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes.

When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.

A dark and gripping feminist tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063211506

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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