For Western aficionados who don’t mind alien outlaws in their shoot’em-ups.

WHERE THE ROCK SPLITS THE SKY

In a bizarre post-apocalyptic future, Megan Bridgwater’s world is defined by Western garb, gab and clichés.

There are horses, saloons, outlaws, a stagecoach robbery, poker games—everything but cattle and rustlers. Alien Visitors who arrived 20 years ago have created a land of perpetual daytime: They’ve stopped the Earth’s rotation, leaving the sun always in the sky and otherwise wreaking havoc. The Zone, a place of “[w]eird space-time wrinkles,” stretches from the Midwest to the Pacific. Despite that, Megan, an expert tracker, heads out into no man’s land to find her father. She’s accompanied first by Luis, a Mexican blacksmith who eventually becomes a love interest, and joined by Kelly, an alien abductee who has missed the past 20 years. This threesome is determined to get from Marfa, Texas, to Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, Ariz., where they hope all answers can be found. Megan’s formal, present-tense narration is reminiscent of Charles Portis. A weird concoction of familiar and strange elements, the plot challenges the characters in ways that cause them to draw on both magical and old-fashioned ingenuity. So much happens that the characters remain fairly flat, the violence has a cartoonish quality, and the climactic moment goes over the top. That doesn’t stop the premise, unlikely as it is, from being cool as hell.

For Western aficionados who don’t mind alien outlaws in their shoot’em-ups. (Science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55701-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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