THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH

From the Book of Dust series , Vol. 2

A desert rose with mysterious properties sets off a rush.

The events of The Book of Dust (2017) and the His Dark Materials series behind her, Lyra Silvertongue has grown into a rude post-teen so enthralled by the existential hyperrationalism of two popular writers that even her daemon Pantalaimon can’t stand to talk to her. Believing that Lyra’s imagination has been stolen, Pan braves mutual anguish to slip off to fetch it back. Meanwhile, hints of a rare Central Asian rose whose attar confers the power to see Dust arrive in Brytain, the theocratic Magisterium is poised to expand its reach under the sway of a sinister mastermind, and Malcolm Polstead, Oxford professor and secret agent, finds himself involved in ominous local events—all adding up to multiple characters embarking on parallel journeys across Europe and onward. Pullman places his cast of white main characters in a Eurocentric world marked by rising authoritarianism, general anxiety, desperate refugees, and anonymous terrorists violently destroying rose crops in the name of a vaguely religious Holy Purpose. He skillfully weaves in deeper themes of change and of love’s complexities, ruminations on the nature of evil, evidence of magical truths beneath reality’s veneer, swipes at organized religion, and the powerful—if often twisted—ties of family. This entry, while well stocked with familiar characters in a story founded on ideas, is also not lacking in grand events and narrow squeaks.

Exhilarating. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-553-51066-9

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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

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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

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