Shattering and transcendent.

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THE SHADOW BEHIND THE STARS

From the author of the radiant A Creature of Moonlight (2014), a heartbreaking fantasy tackles life’s big questions.

Why do terrible things happen? How is one supposed to keep on going afterward? And what is there left to live for? After her life is brutally destroyed, the devastated Aglaia seeks out the three Fates of Greek myth and demands answers. Motherly Serena and even dour Xinot take pity on the innocent girl, but from the very beginning, youngest sister Chloe, who spins the threads of destiny for the other two to measure and cut, senses that Aglaia—with her stunning beauty, clear vision, and fierce determination—threatens the very foundations of their reality. For as the sisters are drawn inexorably into Aglaia’s suffering and plans for vengeance, they become increasingly immersed in the human lives, filled with all their hopes and joys and tragedies and griefs, from which the Fates need isolation. Chloe’s narrative voice is piercing and poetic, encompassing both youthful heedlessness and eternal power, rich in minute observations, delicate metaphors, restrained accountings of atrocities, and reluctant wisdom. Alongside her sisters, she comes to sing mortals “a tune of cataclysms, of breaking points, of beautiful horrors”—but the final aching chord of helpless love becomes the unexpected triumphant resolution to every impossible question.

Shattering and transcendent. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3571-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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