Moody, ponderous, and baroque; a good choice for readers with Gothic inclinations.

THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL

In a dark atmospheric fantasy debut, one young woman (like so many adolescents) finds her greatest enemy is the monster within.

After twin sisters tragically warped into wraithlike “soul eaters” wreak vengeance upon the adults who betrayed them, 7-year-old Alys and the rest of the surviving children seek refuge with a neighboring village—at the price of cruel servitude to their oppressive Elders. Over the decade that follows, Alys is secretly drawn to The Beast, the mystical spirit of the “fforest” widely deemed the source of all evil. To her horror, she also realizes a growing sense of kinship with the vampiric sisters, even to a compulsion to drain the souls of anyone threatening her. Van Arsdale limns a bleak, doleful world, inspired by medieval Wales, where the “white as snow,” rigid, and puritanical townsfolk contrast negatively with the more ethnically diverse, gender-fluid, and carefree people of the Lakes. Alys’ archetypical hero’s journey meanders at a dreamlike pace: great swathes of earthy quotidian detail are punctuated by set pieces of grotesque horror and brief interludes of beauty, compassion, and perfunctory-feeling romance. Her final confrontation with the sisters (and her own inner demons) occurs in a phantasmagorical climax that is a pure distillation of all that comes before, at once achingly poetic and frustratingly opaque.

Moody, ponderous, and baroque; a good choice for readers with Gothic inclinations. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8841-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

more