The tepid, resolution-free ending beckons potential sequels.



Acclaimed for her fantasy, Carson now travels the Old West.

Fifteen-year-old Leah lives on a farm near Dahlonega, Georgia, a town built around an early gold rush. She and her parents keep secret the fact that she has a mysterious "gold sense": she can find gold the way diviners find water, and despite the shabbiness of their homestead, the family is hiding 3 pounds of gold dust. When her parents are murdered and the gold stolen, Leah suspects her only living relative, who threatens to use her talents for nefarious ends. Leah and her childhood friend, a half-Cherokee boy named Jefferson, run away and join a wagon train headed toward California's newly discovered gold. Leah's narration details the adventures of their journey with a disparate group of travelers who often come across as archetypes more than fully fledged characters. There's the racist who attacks peaceful Indians, the selfish man who overloads his wagon with luxury goods, the runaway slave, the clueless itinerant preacher—none drawn with enough depth to make him or her memorable. Leah dresses as a boy for half the journey, and the revelation of her gender is accepted too readily to seem historically accurate. Along with other minor historical gaffes, Carson can neither sustain the tension of Leah's parents' murders nor put Leah's magical powers to interesting use.

The tepid, resolution-free ending beckons potential sequels.   (author’s note, dramatis personae) (Historical fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-224291-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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