A POCKET FULL OF MURDER

Their mother’s death and their father’s struggle to find work have taken a toll on the four Breck sisters: Annagail, the eldest, has left school for a factory job; young Lilet and Mimmi endure day care; and would-be writer Isaveth, following a recipe in the Book of Common Magic, has begun baking spell-tablets to sell on the street.

In Tarreton, nobles live in luxury while the poor live in grinding, Dickensian poverty. As Moshites, a religious minority, the Brecks are isolated and burdened by discrimination. When Papa is arrested, unjustly accused of murdering the governor of Tarreton College, Isaveth vows to save him. Quiz, a mysterious boy who’s befriended her (like her, he’s a fan of the broadcast “talkie-play” Auradia Champion, Lady Justice of Listerbroke), offers much-needed help. Their investigations lead them first to the college, with its plethora of witnesses and possible suspects, then to the Workers’ Club, an illegal underground organization dedicated to improving the lives of Tarreton’s downtrodden. Isaveth and her sisters are an appealing bunch, and the plot’s twists and turns keep readers enjoyably perplexed. The setting, with its nostalgia-infused, late-Victorian vibe, is to fantasy what steampunk is to science fiction—and great fun. This alternate world’s infrastructure relies on magic-based technology. Powerful Sagery enables the nobility’s luxurious lifestyle, but for commoners, permission to use common magic is a hard-won right, by no means universal.

Thoroughly entertaining. (Fantasy.10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3771-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more