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THE RUINED

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 4

A big, bold, high-cost end to a lush quartet.

Otherworld politics threaten love in this series conclusion.

The Righteous (2021) left the heroes in disarray and the Winter Court of the Sylvan Wyld on the cusp of war with the Summer Court of the Sylvan Vale. The Wyld’s leadership vacuum results in pushes for Bastien to reclaim his family’s ancestral seat, the Ice Throne—and custody of a powerful mirror with control over time. But everything comes at a price, and the intriguing seductions of the mirror have ruined many before him. He learns of the dark plans that the Lady of the Vale has for Celine, her daughter, but he fears Celine won’t believe him. His insistence on lies and secrecy do him no favors with Celine, who’s understandably conflicted: attracted to the power of being Lady Silla’s heir, tired of people controlling her, yearning for connection with her mother, and grieving the loss of Pippa, who is presumed dead. At times, the characters’ decisions may frustrate readers, but even their most irrational moments are justified by circumstances and emotional states. Personal growth drives the plot and deftly separates heroes from villains. The final showdown is a big one in its consequences both to the fey Otherworld and New Orleans, the city Sebastien and Celine love. No one escapes unscathed, but time may heal some wounds. The fey world is diverse in sexuality and race; discrimination exists on the basis of human parentage and court affiliation.

A big, bold, high-cost end to a lush quartet. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-984812-64-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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