Here’s hoping the last installment isn’t such a quagmire of negative tropes and stereotypes. Disappointing.

FEATHERS

From the Tales Trilogy series , Vol. 2

A gender-bent Swan Lake retelling and sequel to Roses (2013).

Ode is born into the Taone tribe, whose society, though they inhabit a fantasy world, parallels multiple aspects of real Native American cultures. At his birth, the birther—always a woman—shocks everyone by announcing that Ode will be her apprentice. Such an upset in gender norms is too much for the chief (Ode’s father), the villagers, and eventually even his mother, Sunset By Forest, to accept. After his first public transformation into a swan, his ostracization is complete; only Cala, the birther who raises him, and his younger brother show him affection. That the Taone people are so uniformly and entirely unlikable makes for problematic cultural coding. When his tribesmen insist on fighting a people they don’t understand despite Ode’s dreams that warn of defeat, they’re nearly slaughtered. Through Ode’s intervention, they are integrated into the community of Magic refugees fleeing the Magical Cleansing. But Ode himself must flee into the wild, where he joins some missionaries, traveling with them across land and sea to their temple. Though the temple houses people from all over, the narrative falls into a tired and dubious trope: Ode falls for the petite, blue-eyed, blonde Briar, whose features are downright fetishized. The Magical Cleansing eventually reaches the temple, leading to a cliffhanger ending.

Here’s hoping the last installment isn’t such a quagmire of negative tropes and stereotypes. Disappointing. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63450-165-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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