Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure

ECHOES OF MEMORY

From the Ravenborn series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Shades of Darkness (2016) follows Chris and Kaira, friends caught between mystical god-beings who fight over possession of their souls.

After Chris, a white boy, is found at the scene of the most recent of a string of murders at their boarding school, he’s haunted by the voices of birds who tell him that he is the Endbringer. A godlike being tells him that it is his destiny to kill Kaira, the girl he wants to save. Kaira, dark-skinned and generically Native American, has fallen desperately ill. Kaira finds herself in an underworld where a different being tells her she is the Shadechild and that she must kill Chris. In this underworld, gods are bound to feed the sacred Tree, which thrives only when fed with blood offered via human sacrifice. Chris’ and Kaira’s fates are intertwined, as both feel a determination to resist the pressure to kill each other, and it is only together that they might release themselves from the gods that claim them. The concept of this Norse-inflected paranormal is stronger than the actual read. The narrative stalls through lackluster pages in which little happens but angst, as if the author needs filler to get readers to the protagonists’ visits with the underworld gods, scenes that are disappointingly dull and lead to a sequel-bait ending.

Not much here for readers looking for an engaging supernatural adventure . (Suspense. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3260-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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