A straight, almost solemn retelling of the quest for the Grail: from the coming of Galahad and the knights' rushing off—"knowing well enough where the Grail was lodged," but knowing too that "they must cast themselves on fate, welcoming whichever way it took them"—to Galahad's successfully "coming into the heart of the mystery, where it is not possible for a mortal man to come, and yet remain mortal." Without a hint of divergent sensibility, Sutcliff takes us into a legendary climate where voices sound forth with guidance and direction, strange knights are slain for sport in chance encounters, false ladies pursue the pure young men with evil snares, a perfect maiden sacrifices herself for an unknown lady, Lancelot suffers searing agony in his struggle to choose between God and Guinevere, and the unquestioned supremity of the spiritual mission endows all the headlong adventure with nobility. Inevitably, Lancelot's struggle is the most moving; without the actual miracle of the embodied sacrament of Communion, Galahad remains paler and more strictly allegorical than ever. Before stumbling on a parody, reinterpretation, or contemporary reworking, young people should have some acquaintance with the material and viewpoint as set down by Malory. Sutcliff provides this with grace and an air of wholehearted feeling, for readers who might shy away from a more inclusive volume of Arthurian legends. (Her introduction asks us to remember as well the story's Celtic roots, but their spirit is less evident here.) Librarians should also remember, though, that equally readable but stronger versions exist in such staples as Keith Baines' rendition of Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur.

Pub Date: April 17, 1980

ISBN: 0140371508

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate.


This election cycle, with its exacerbated Islamophobia, makes author Mills' (Positively Beautiful, 2015) fictive meditation on 9/11 and the 15 years after especially timely.

The book opens with Travis McLaurin, a 19-year-old white man trying to protect Alia Susanto, a 16-year-old hijab-wearing Indonesian-American Muslim, from the debris caused by the South Tower's destruction. The next chapter takes place 15 years later, with Travis' younger sister, Jesse, defacing a building with an Islamophobic slogan before the police catch her. The building, readers learn later, is the Islam Peace Center, where Jesse must do her community service for her crime. Between these plot points, the author elegantly transitions between the gripping descriptions of Alia and Travis trying to survive and Jesse almost falling into the abyss of generational hatred of Islam. In doing so, she artfully educates readers on both the aspects of Islam used as hateful stereotypes and the ruinous effects of Islamophobia. With almost poetic language, the author compassionately renders both the realistic lives, loves, passions, and struggles of Alia ("There's a galaxy between us, hung thick with stars of hurt and disappointment) and Jesse ("I'm caught in a tornado filled with the jagged pieces of my life") as both deal with the fallout of that tragic day.

Both a poignant contemplation on 9/11 and a necessary intervention in this current political climate. (timeline, author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-343-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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