Classical heroism in a magical antiquity makes for a fresh read.

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SISTERS OF SWORD & SONG

An ancient Greece–inspired fantasy starring two very different sisters.

Halcyon was destined from an early age to become legendary, plucked from lower-class obscurity to rise through the hoplite ranks. But the night before her first scheduled visit home in eight years, she shows up in her younger sister Evadne’s room—haunted, hunted, and on the run. She’s followed by her former commander, Lord Straton, ending up on trial for the accidental murder of her shield mate, Straton’s son. Evadne pleads to take part of Halcyon’s sentence, ending up serving Straton’s family. Always longing for magic and jealous of her sister’s specialness, Evadne’s drawn to Straton’s younger son, Damon, a mage. From his family, Evadne learns of a mage conspiracy behind the queen’s unpopular decrees—unmanageable taxes, banning commoners from owning magical relics of the gods—and of a secret group opposing them. Meanwhile, in a hard-labor quarry sentence, Halcyon—whose identity as a member of the pro-queen faction is uncovered—is challenged to keep the group’s secrets from the conspiracy. While athletic Halcyon physically languishes, Evadne, whose abilities are underestimated due to an old ankle injury that causes her to limp, must step into a quest that challenges the heroes’ magical resources, cleverness, and strength of character. While flawed and capable of mistakes, the heroes are quintessentially good. The characters default to white.

Classical heroism in a magical antiquity makes for a fresh read. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-247141-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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