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UNSEEN

An insightful tale of persecution and survival.

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In Scott’s debut YA novel, a young girl tries to heal her father and avoid being harmed by supernatural forces persecuting members of her culture.

Alaia’s father is deathly ill, and she’s doing everything she can to save him with a doctor’s medicine and her own herbal remedies. If he dies, not only will she lose her dad, whom she loves, but it will also leave their family vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft if there’s no man in the house. She’s already under suspicion for her use of herbal remedies, and her position is made more precarious by her love for Mateo, the inquisitor’s nephew, and her former friendship with a woman who was executed for possessing a mark associated with witchcraft. When Alaia is visited by a spirit, who later saves her from being hit by a carriage, the mark that condemned her friend appears on her, too—bringing new magical abilities with it. Despite her efforts to hide the mark, she’s found out; the inquisitor tries to have her executed, and when Mateo seemingly damns her too, she escapes. She’s aided by the spirit of Txomin, a boy she once knew and who reveals information to her about her long-lost brother. Over the course of this supernatural adventure story, Scott weaves in clear parallels between Alaia’s story and those of real-life women who were accused of being witches in Europe and America. She’s particularly deft at showing the ways in which people in power can threaten and exploit vulnerable societies by appealing to their bigotry. By filtering the story through the lens of an oppressed culture, Scott highlights that the novel is about the persecution of a vulnerable group rather than a struggle between similarly powerful forces. The author also makes strong use of figurative language to convey her central characters’ feelings, which becomes just as important to the book’s goal of inviting empathy as its plot points are; at one point, for instance, Alaia’s fear is described in the phrase: “A throbbing pain split across my chest, unfurling like tentacles.”

An insightful tale of persecution and survival.

Pub Date: July 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-285682-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Review Posted Online: June 17, 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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CHILDREN OF ANGUISH AND ANARCHY

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 3

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion.

In this much-anticipated trilogy closer following 2019’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, an enemy from a land across the sea carries out conquests to fulfill a prophecy that threatens the entire world.

The war between the maji and the crown of Orïsha ends when the Skulls, a tribe of masked, pale-skinned invaders, interrupt the pivotal battle, abducting Zélie, Tzain, Amari, Inan, and dozens of maji from their homeland. Caged on a ship and cut off from their magic, they have no choice but to set aside their bitterness and distrust to fight for their freedom. Ruthless and empowered by the volatile magic of bloodmetal weapons, the Skulls hunt for Zélie, “a girl with the blood of the sun,” at the command of their king, Baldyr, who prepares for his ascension to godhood during the Blood Moon. As much as she longs to return home, visions and an intertwined fate pull Zélie, along with her companions, to the land of New Gaīa in search of a girl with russet-brown skin and eyes that glitter like diamonds. United goals, fresh conflict, and impending doom provide invigorating gusts of momentum that push the story out of the doldrums of the previous book. On its own, this installment is a suspenseful and compelling expansion of the world, but as a series finale, the conflict seems disconnected from the first two books, and the resolution feels rushed.

A thrilling, climactic storm with an abrupt conclusion. (guide to clans) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 25, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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