Sharp and snow-dusted yet strangely cozy; a comforting winter’s read.

READ REVIEW

THE WIDE STARLIGHT

A teen goes north to reclaim a lost loved one in this modern fairy tale.

Eline Davis lost her mother, Silje Lund, a decade ago, not to illness or abandonment, but to the Northern Lights, which stole Silje but left 6-year-old Eline behind on the ice. After Silje’s disappearance, Eline and her father left Svalbard, Norway, for the States, and Eline’s seemingly enchanted childhood succumbed to mundane reality. But life in Cape Cod is upended when she learns that her best friend, Iris, has secretly been applying to out-of-town schools and that the Northern Lights will be seen in Massachusetts, farther south than ever before. Eline’s modern-day quest in search of her mother alternates with her beloved stories and those of her mother and grandmother, all framed as fairy tales, until the boundaries blur. On her journey, Eline must contend with problems both practical—frostbite, polar bears, angst—and fantastic—storybook characters springing to life, a sentient wind—while also reconciling fond memories with the reality of Silje’s erratic behavior, flaws, and failures. Indebted to Norwegian folktales, Eline’s adventure follows a classic arc while also benefitting from modern technology. Raised and addressed to some degree is the magic-vs.–mental illness trope. Half-American/half-Norwegian Eline reads as White. With her vividly rendered settings, emotionally complex characters, and sweet and sinister magical realism, Lesperance may be a promising successor to Alice Hoffman.

Sharp and snow-dusted yet strangely cozy; a comforting winter’s read. (author's note) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11622-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more