Thoroughly entertaining.

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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

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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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

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Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning.

ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES

From the Pandava Quintet series , Vol. 3

In the third instalment of the Pandava Quartet, 14-year-old Arundhati “Aru” Shah and her companions need to defeat their archnemesis (and Aru’s father), the Sleeper, and prevent the impending war between the devas and asuras.

The novel opens with Aru and her friends on a mission to rescue two people from the Sleeper’s soldiers. The two people are 10-year-old identical twins and Pandavas Nikita and Sheela, trapped atop a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta. This mission is of utmost importance because Sheela is a clairvoyant with an important prophecy, which speaks of the rise of the Sleeper and an untrue Pandava sister—and which the Sleeper must not hear at any cost. Despite their best efforts, however, one of the Sleeper’s soldiers overhears the prophecy, and Aru, Mini, Brynne, and Adin—accompanied by Rudy, a serpent prince—set off to find the missing Kalpavriksha, a wish-granting tree, so that they might wish upon it to set things right. Much like its predecessors, this fast-moving adventure draws on Hindu cosmology and South Asian pop-culture references to create an enchanting but believable magical Otherworld, where gods, demigods, demons, and talking animals abound. Chokshi’s novel is pitch perfect: The plot is action-packed, the dialogue witty, and the characters (almost all of whom are either Indian or part-Indian) are compelling, diverse, and complex.

Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-01385-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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