A sword-swinging maiden encounters dangerous intrigue in newcomer Malone’s tepid historical adventure. Fifteen-year-old Ilena always felt like an outsider in the sixth-century north British village where she was raised. Although respectful of the villagers’ Druid faith, her family is Christian; and unlike the other girls, Ilena was raised to be a warrior, not a wife. After her parents’ deaths, she follows their hints about her heritage to the fortress of Dun Alyn. Her journey leads to battles with blue-painted barbarians and slave-hunting raiders, but also refuge, friendship, and a hint of romance. None of this can prepare her for the challenges she faces at Dun Alyn, where everything she once knew about herself proves false, and where her very life is endangered by a destiny she never imagined. This all should be exciting stuff, and the notion of presenting a strong heroine from a little-known historical period is a worthy one. Unfortunately, her stoic bravery constrains Ilena from showing any personality except by mooning after a handsome warrior; the remaining characters are little more than plot contrivances and generic villains. While a historical afterword broadly sketches the political background of the period, the narrative is riddled with errors of detail that undermine the already tenuous plausibility that Celtic Britain displayed a politically correct gender equality and tolerance for ethnic and religious differences unmatched by the present day. Still, Ilena’s story has moments of high drama and a few genuine surprises, which might appeal to fantasy and adventure fans. Mediocre, but harmless. (Fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-72915-4

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 1

A century before the events of Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy, another everyday heroine gets entangled with demon-slaying Shadowhunters. Sixteen-year-old orphaned Tessa comes to London to join her brother but is imprisoned by the grotesque Dark Sisters. The sisters train the unwilling Tessa in previously unknown shapeshifter abilities, preparing her to be a pawn in some diabolical plan. A timely rescue brings Tessa to the Institute, where a group of misfit Shadowhunters struggles to fight evil. Though details differ, the general flavor of Tessa’s new family will be enjoyably familiar to the earlier trilogy’s fans; the most important is Tessa’s rescuer Will, the gorgeous, sharp-tongued teenager with a mysterious past and a smile like “Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.” The lush, melodramatic urban fantasy setting of the Shadowhunter world morphs seamlessly into a steampunk Victorian past, and this new series provides the setup for what will surely be a climactic battle against hordes of demonically powered brass clockworks. The tale drags in places, but this crowdpleaser’s tension-filled conclusion ratchets toward a new set of mysteries. (Steampunk. 13-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7586-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet