A highly inventive, magic-filled fantasy.

REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR

From the Chronicles of Astranthia series , Vol. 1

Rea Chettri is tired of living in her twin brother Rohan’s shadow.

He gets better grades, has more friends, and gets off easy on his chores. Her feelings of insecurity and questions about their absent father have driven the twins apart. When Rohan goes missing on their 12th birthday, the strange way her family reacts prompts Rea to investigate. She embarks on an otherworldly quest to rescue her brother and save the Kingdom of Astranthia. During this journey, Rea is challenged both by the dangers of this magical land and by her own selfishness. Through new friendships with neighbor Leela, who accompanies her, and Xeranther, an Astranthian they encounter, Rea develops empathy and becomes more altruistic. Her personal growth unlocks a powerful family secret that is the key to saving both Rohan and Astranthia. This original fantasy features an Indian heroine alongside mythical creatures with origins from various cultures. Reflecting the Darjeeling setting, Hindi and Nepali terms are naturally woven throughout the text. Though the pacing is uneven and Rea’s feelings and motivations are sometimes too explicitly spelled out for readers, her adventure is full of action and humor, and her development from selfish to selfless is an admirable one.

A highly inventive, magic-filled fantasy. (glossary) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64543-763-5

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Mango and Marigold Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Worthy of every magical ounce.

CURSE OF THE NIGHT WITCH

From the Emblem Island series , Vol. 1

New Year’s Eve has finally arrived on Emblem Island, and for 12-year-old Tor Luna, it means an opportunity to wish away the leadership emblem he so deeply loathes.

Amid the annual festivities, Tor casts his wish to the wish-gods in hopes of a new emblem—a marker on one’s skin—that will grant him the power to become a water-breather, forsaking the leadership path forged by his Chieftess mother. Alas, his wish backfires when he awakens the next day cursed with a shorter lifeline instead. It’s the Night Witch’s mark, a black eye marked upon his skin. Now the young boy must travel across Emblem Island to confront the wicked Night Witch and reverse the curse. With two companions—Engle, his comically brave best friend, and Melda, an intelligent, cunning girl—Tor embarks on an adventure charted in The Book of Cuentos, a collection of folklore based on the various enchanting, cruel inhabitants—Emblemite and beast alike—of Emblem Island. Aster’s debut includes the fruitful elements of a riveting tale: lovable characters, thrilling heroics, and villainous fiends. What sets this series opener apart is the author’s exquisite use of real Latin American folktales to broaden her fiction, bolstering the particulars of the world she creates here. Pages from The Book of Cuentos fill the gaps between each chapter, providing island lore for flavor and context. Tightly paced, Tor’s adventure concludes with a promise of more to come.

Worthy of every magical ounce. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9720-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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