From the Wizard for Hire series , Vol. 2

A sequel that (mostly) continues to deliver mystery, humor, and real-life magic

Fifteen-year-old Ozzy Toffy is still settling into his new life beyond the solitary house in the woods when a series of events puts everything and everyone he loves in jeopardy in this sequel to Wizard for Hire (2018).

Life is never dull for Ozzy, his friend Sigi, and his mechanical bird, Clark. Wizard Rin phones, saying simply that “things are happening.” Indeed: Ozzy sleepwalks into the ocean, guided by his buzzing finger, and a mysterious man delivers a zip drive containing a plane ticket for travel to New York City. Believing Rin is behind the subterfuge, Sigi, Ozzy, and Clark board a plane only to find themselves confronted by Ray Dench, an evil and powerful man, who is determined to use and then dispose of Ozzy. Even though they manage to escape Ray’s henchmen, Ozzy is still troubled by his buzzing finger, and Sigi continues to struggle to trust Rin, who is also her estranged father. It’s the characters that (mostly) make the book work. Clark is an amusing diversion with his dry humor and obsession with mechanical objects. While Rin’s suspicious lack of magical ability throws his wizardry into question, Ozzy’s continuing wonder with the world is the real magic. The book adheres to the white default, brown-skinned Sigi a notable exception. Ozzy’s fascination with her skin and her devotion to Ozzy make her characterization troubling.

A sequel that (mostly) continues to deliver mystery, humor, and real-life magic . (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62972-529-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

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