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CITY OF NIGHTMARES

So much fun readers will stay up all night to finish it.

A girl who escapes being collateral damage in an attack must face her overwhelming fears.

In the fictional city of Newham, bribes, shootouts, and corruption are widespread, and the water supply is laced with a drug that keeps people from dreaming so that they don’t wake up transformed into the worst thing they can imagine. Ness came to Newham after her older sister turned into a giant spider and ate their father. To avoid becoming homeless, she works for the Friends of the Restful Soul, though she’s always messing up due to her lack of piety and extreme fear trauma responses to Nightmares. With her position already in jeopardy, she ends up accidentally sucked into a targeted conspiracy that throws her together with a living Nightmare. Ness must then figure out the secrets people are willing to kill her to keep hidden. The worldbuilding’s a dream: The magical rules are revealed clearly and concisely when relevant, and the quirky alternate setting maintains internal consistency and is frequently revealed in pithy, hilarious ways. The matter-of-fact tone of the humor effectively keeps the laughs from undermining the scary story elements. Ness’ development from being a self-described coward is hard earned and connects to powerful themes of relationships (including friendships) and overcoming manipulation. While immediate threats are neutralized by the end, bigger threats loom. The cosmopolitan world is casually and naturally diverse; Ness lacks racial descriptors.

So much fun readers will stay up all night to finish it. (Fantasy/horror. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-358-64730-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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