A thrilling ride and dazzling denouement—but to a pentalogy, not a duology.

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IGNITING DARKNESS

From the Courting Darkness series , Vol. 2

Two daughters of Death test their faith and meet their fate.

Rife with labyrinthine plotting, swoonworthy romance, and endless intrigue, the 500-plus–page conclusion to LaFevers’ Courting Darkness duology resumes in medias res. Sybella, an assassin trained by the convent of Saint Mortain and attendee to the former Duchess of Brittany, now Queen of France, makes contact with Genevieve, a fellow novitiate foundering five years into her infiltration of the French court. Surrounded by manipulators and shrinking in his father’s shadow, the king struggles to find his footing as a ruler. Meanwhile, France’s regent seeks power at every turn; Pierre, Sybella’s bloodthirsty brother, pursues malevolent ends of his own; and the enforced monotheism of 15th-century Europe grinds in tension with the Nine, a set of pre-Christian deities Sybella and Genevieve serve. Can Death’s own daughters survive the ceaseless scheming, much less while preserving France and Brittany, their chosen families, and the old gods? LaFevers’ dynamic, fully realized protagonists once again shine in alternating first-person accounts—and, better still, are afforded love interests every bit their equals. Though most readers will have no trouble following the narrative’s central thread, only the fully entwined will stitch together a tapestry on par with the five-volume arras begun in the His Fair Assassin series. Unfortunately, all characters adhere to the myth of a lily-white Europe.

A thrilling ride and dazzling denouement—but to a pentalogy, not a duology. (map, dramatis personae, author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-99109-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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