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THE RIGHTEOUS

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 3

Characters’ relationships aside, essentially an extended setup for the next installment.

To rescue loved ones following the events of The Damned (2020), Arjun and Pippa venture into the dangerous Otherworld.

The Court of Lions begs half-human, half-fey Arjun to go to the Otherworld—the place vampires have been exiled from—to convince a fey healer to come and save Odette. He’s on a strict time limit, though, with his promise of servitude to the Winter Court’s king hanging overhead. After Arjun leaves, Pippa investigates his home in search of clues about Celine, her missing best friend, and ends up following him through the tare. The fey of the Summer Court are vicious to “halfbloods” like Arjun, who at least has protection from his mother’s status; when Pippa ends up being discovered and is seriously endangered, Arjun claims her as his fiancee to protect her. While they’re attracted to each other, Pippa already has a fiance—a good, rich man she needs to marry to take care of her family—but the fey marriage rite means forever. Pippa and Arjun’s compatibility allows for a quickly building romance despite the circumstances. Occasional viewpoints from other characters’ perspectives give hints at more Otherworld politics. In the last act, the worldbuilding further expands with deceptions and dangerous fey schemes coming to fruition just in time for the sequel. Racism, colorism, and colonialism are confronted (Pippa’s White and British; Arjun’s human half is Indian); queer fey are accepted.

Characters’ relationships aside, essentially an extended setup for the next installment. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984812-61-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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THE CHANGING MAN

A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter.

After a Nigerian British girl goes off to an exclusive boarding school that seems to prey on less-privileged students, she discovers there might be some truth behind an urban legend.

Ife Adebola joins the Urban Achievers scholarship program at pricey, high-pressure Nithercott School, arriving shortly after a student called Leon mysteriously disappeared. Gossip says he’s a victim of the glowing-eyed Changing Man who targets the lonely, leaving them changed. Ife doesn’t believe in the myth, but amid the stresses of Nithercott’s competitive, privileged, majority-white environment, where she is constantly reminded of her state school background, she does miss her friends and family. When Malika, a fellow Black scholarship student, disappears and then returns, acting strangely devoid of personality, Ife worries the Changing Man is real—and that she’s next. Ife joins forces with classmate Bijal and Benny, Leon’s younger brother, to uncover the truth about who the Changing Man is and what he wants. Culminating in a detailed, gory, and extended climactic battle, this verbose thriller tempts readers with a nefarious mystery involving racial and class-based violence but never quite lives up to its potential and peters out thematically by its explosive finale. However, this debut offers highly visually evocative and eerie descriptions of characters and events and will appeal to fans of creature horror, social commentary, and dark academia.

A descriptive and atmospheric paranormal social thriller that could be a bit tighter. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781250868138

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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