Although much of this book’s gravity and richness is carried forward from the first two, devotees of His Fair Assassin will...

MORTAL HEART

From the His Fair Assassin series , Vol. 3

The glorious series about convent-trained assassins concludes, reframing a main character in ways that shift the meaning of the whole series.

It’s Brittany, 1488. Death’s handmaidens Ismae (Grave Mercy, 2012) and Sybella (Dark Triumph, 2013) are off on assignment, helping the steadfast 13-year-old duchess defend Brittany against impending French occupation. Annith’s stuck in the convent, desperate to be sent out: How can she serve Mortain—their father and the god of death—behind abbey walls? Slated for a duty that will keep her convent-bound forever, Annith runs. She plans to investigate the abbess’ shady machinations but instead meets a group of hellequin on horseback, “souls of the damned” serving Mortain to earn redemption. After sparks fly with their brooding leader, Balthazaar, Annith joins the royal court in Rennes. Real historical threads provide profound resonance, and plot twists run deep. Unfortunately, a life-threatening danger near the end disappears via a disingenuous textual sleight-of-hand; worse, Mortain transforms from awe-inspiring god to something rather more pedestrian. Because he’s Death, this change robs this volume of the previous installments’ peculiar, breathtaking religious grace, undermines the convent’s raison d’être and upends the series’ magnificent premise. Though far more naïve than Ismae and Sybella, Annith is sympathetic, and her story is compelling if less action-packed and desperate than theirs; this novel never drags, but nor does it glow with beauty like the first two.

Although much of this book’s gravity and richness is carried forward from the first two, devotees of His Fair Assassin will be gratified to receive this closure, especially on the political front. (Historical fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-62840-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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