The Irish-pantheon premise injects originality into otherwise-familiar tropes.

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FIRE AND BONE

A homeless, white 18-year-old learns she’s a demigoddess and must choose allegiances.

When Sage is drugged at a party, she starts seeing odd features on fellow revelers: wings and fangs. In her altered state, she starts manifesting strange, fiery powers before a new arrival—a handsome, bronze-skinned Irishman named Faelan—helps her through this experience and informs her that her true mother was the goddess Brighid, making Sage a demigoddess. She’s swept off the streets and into a complex supernatural world based on Irish cosmology, where she’s offered protection and help controlling her abilities. Unless readers are taken in by the premise or connect early with Sage, the book risks losing them due to a sluggish pace, as worldbuilding exposition repeats itself, adding just a little new information each time, and Sage dreams repeatedly of her long–cast-out, infamous older sister. The pace and intrigue pick up after Sage’s formal Introduction to the supernatural world, the period of time in which the houses of the five main gods and goddesses must vie with one another for her loyalty—and power. This contest takes the form of a love triangle among Sage, Faelan, and the dark prince from House Morrígan. Aside from Sage, female characters tend to be vapid, treacherous, or both. Eventually, all the exposition pays off and the heroes set up for their next moves—in the next book.

The Irish-pantheon premise injects originality into otherwise-familiar tropes. (Paranormal romance. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-4675-0

Page Count: 414

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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