THE LIGHT BEYOND THE FOREST

THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL (ARTHURIAN TRILOGY)

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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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

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THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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

ALL WE HAVE LEFT

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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