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RED WOLF

A dark and intriguing fairy-tale adaptation.

A red-cloaked girl encounters (were)wolves.

Born and raised in Oakvale, a small town surrounded by a beast-riddled and ever encroaching dark wood, 16-year-old Adele Duval enjoys her provincial life. She hopes to wed and raise children with Grainger Colbert, spend time with her sister and mother, and overcome rumors of the Duval family curse. However, on a trip to see her Gran in the wood, Adele unexpectedly transforms into a redwulf and learns she is now a lycanthropic guardian like her mother and grandmother. To her dismay, Adele also learns that she’s long been betrothed to Maxime Bernard, a handsome carpenter from Ashborne who is privy to her secret superpowers. Tasked with protecting villagers and travelers against the other monsters of the dark wood, Adele relishes her new powers but struggles with her new responsibilities and romantic prospects. The beasts in the woods—often heard rather than seen, per the best horror conventions—may eat people, but faced with hard decisions and hard-line villagers, Adele discovers that humans can be equally dangerous, particularly to independent and unconventional women. Pivoting from her contemporary thrillers, Vincent offers a richly detailed, old-fashioned fantasy with a dash of horror set in a pre-industrial Francophone European countryside populated by White characters. Vincent’s contemplation and dissection of monstrosity elevates this retelling above a crowded field but dilutes its insights with regrettably generic tropes.

A dark and intriguing fairy-tale adaptation. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-241162-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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BLOOD AT THE ROOT

From the Blood at the Root series , Vol. 1

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences.

Black diaspora magic manifests in a boy on the worst day of his life—but later, things only get more complicated.

When Malik Baron was 7, his mother vanished in the explosive moment his powers manifested while he defended them from mysterious cloaked figures. Ten years (and many foster homes later), the short-tempered Malik isn’t much better at controlling his powers, but he’s ready to leave Helena, Alabama, and start over with Taye, his foster brother. Reuniting with Mama Aya, the maternal grandmother in New Orleans he never knew, wasn’t part of the plan, but fate draws Malik to her—and into a secret world of magic. He discovers Caiman University—a sort of magical historically Black college—which may be where he’ll find answers to what happened to his mother. Narrator Malik, who uses colorful language, is fully aware of the Black Harry Potter subtext of his story, and he’s thoughtfully focused on protecting Taye, proving his mother is still alive, and surviving in a world that has never made things easy, even before supernatural threats emerged. The extensive worldbuilding incorporates West African, Caribbean, and Black American history and cultures to explain a magical reality hidden from view and relevant to the Black diaspora and Malik’s family history. When Malik bumps into an old friend and potential love interest on campus, everything is in place for him to grow into his powers, uncover the truth, and face new heartbreak.

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593711927

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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