Simplistic characters undermine an exciting, creative fantasy world.



Plot trumps characterization in this Wild West fantasy.

When mysterious attackers burn their hometown, survivors Maggie Davis and her younger sister, Ella, seek refuge in a nearby town. Local law enforcement assumes the burnings are Apache attacks against relic-mining communities, as the Apache culture views relic use as religious desecration. Relics are the expensive fossils of magical creatures such as dragons and goblins, and they give the wielder access to the creature’s residual magic. When a few Apaches—including the one who rescued Maggie and Ella from their town’s fire (the first of Maggie’s many rescues)—are captured, Maggie must solve the mystery before they are executed. While local nuns take in little Ella, Maggie needs employment—preferably not as a prostitute. She only barely finds a position at the local saloon when its young, handsome owner—Álvar Castilla, the wealthiest man in town—invents a hostess position for her. She befriends a showgirl/prostitute with a heart of gold and flirts with a heroic cowboy while avoiding a controlling stock villain. The text often tells readers that Maggie is strong, yet more often than not, other characters must push her along through the plot. The ending demands a sequel, but only readers willing to forgive slipshod characterization for the innovative worldbuilding will look forward to it.

Simplistic characters undermine an exciting, creative fantasy world. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62266-015-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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From the Bartimaeus series , Vol. 4

The entertainingly cocky djinni scraps his way through a 950 BCE escapade mostly unrelated to his series (The Bartimaeus Trilogy) but in that same metaphysical world. Any competent magician can summon Bartimaeus to Earth and enslave him, though none can suppress his amusingly snide commentary (complete with witty footnotes). Assigned to chase bandits outside a corrupt Jerusalem, he meets Asmira, a young woman whose third-person-limited narrative sections are told in a reserved, pragmatic voice. She treks to Jerusalem on a mission to assassinate King Solomon, who threatens her country of Sheba. Magical detonations enhance the tension as Asmira creeps closer to King Solomon and his world-controlling ring. Semi-success in her quest raises new questions, expanding her worldview and making her think in new ways. Despite Asmira’s likability, copious action and suspense, the text’s sharp elegance and Bartimaeus’s funny panache under duress, the prose moves slowly throughout, partly due to over-description. Best for worshippers of popular Bartimaeus and fantasy readers who don’t require a quick pace. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2372-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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