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

APPRENTICE NEEDED

From the Wizard for Hire series , Vol. 2

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. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Sweet, if unremarkable.

BRIARHEART

A gentle “Sleeping Beauty”–inspired tale of teens training to defend a baby princess.

Fifteen-year-old Miri, beloved stepdaughter of the king, is freshly in love—with her baby sister. As the novel opens, Aurora’s christening looms, and any Disney fan will know what’s coming. However, this is Miri’s story, and pages of first-person description and exposition come before those events. Tirendell, like all kingdoms, has Light and Dark Fae. Dark Fae feed off human misery and sadness, but their desire to cause harm for self-benefit is tempered by the Rules. The Rules state that they can only act against humans under certain conditions, one being that those who have crossed them, for example, by failing to invite them to a royal christening, are fair game. Miri steps up instinctively at the moment of crisis and both deflects the curse and destroys the Dark Fae, which leads to the bulk of the novel: an extended and detailed day-to-day journey with Miri and her five largely indistinguishable new friends as they train in combat and magic to protect Aurora from future threats. With limited action and a minimal plot, this story lacks wide appeal but is notable for the portrait of deep familial love and respect, while the brief, episodic adventures (including talking animals) offer small pleasures. All characters are implied to be White.

Sweet, if unremarkable. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5745-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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