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

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 bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A second volume that sets the scene for more to come.

DEFEND THE DAWN

From the Defy the Night series , Vol. 2

As the Moonflower supply in Kandala dwindles, a ship arrives with a trade opportunity in this follow-up to Defy the Night (2021).

Moonflowers are critical for an elixir that cures the fever sickness. Prior to his assassination, King Lucas of Kandala sent a spy to neighboring Ostriary, whose connection with Kandala had been severed. Now Capt. Rian Blakemore arrives in Kandala claiming to be the spy’s son, offering Moonflowers in exchange for steel, and inviting a delegation to meet with the Ostrian king. Tessa Cade, outlaw-turned–royal apothecary, is eager to go. Since the invasion of the Royal Sector, Kandala’s King Harristan has attempted to negotiate better distribution of Moonflower petals to the poorer districts, but tension among the rebels, consuls, and royals has stalled progress. An alternate supply of Moonflowers would buy time for Tessa to find another cure. Her hope is countered by the cynicism of the King’s Justice, Prince Corrick. Nevertheless, he boards Blakemore’s ship along with Tessa and rebel leader Lochlan Cresswell. As Tessa and Corrick try to discern hidden motives and a possible trap, they reexamine their relationship, which gets tested by the mysterious captain. Chapters told in alternating perspectives draw out the plot at a measured pace, ending with a series of shocking revelations. The structure results in introspective accounts following different concurrent events, slowing the story’s forward momentum. Characters have varying skin tones.

A second volume that sets the scene for more to come. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-1007-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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