A space journey sidelined by convoluted, high-concept subplots.

The Saeshell Book of Time: Part 1: The Death of Innocents

A race of formless consciousnesses imprisoned in crystal intends to reform the universe in this first of a planned sci-fi series where past, present, and future occur simultaneously.

Biesele’s work explores the human psyche through an elevated species that claims to understand the internal workings of the universe. The book, a “living” character, challenges the “meat-based barbaric automatons” to see if they can understand hyperspace—a plane of tunnels intersecting in space. Ty and Tyco’s futures hang in the balance as they explore the history of their own painful evolution by linking with the Guardian, a highly evolved computer system. The two youngsters rely on their teacher, who guides them telekinetically through the history of Stefan and Tova2, the destined leaders of the new universe. The boys, like others before them, evolved from a mix of human genetics and other creatures, a mix that gives them powers to attract the attention of the Sophistans, a race of consciousnesses with no true physical form. The evolved youth had been raised by selfish sociopaths using their children for personal gain until the Sophistans rescue them from the savagery of a human fate. Ty and Tyco train to become Children of Sophista. Despite the promise of an enlightened existence, the “randomness” of human genetics is in direct conflict with the orderly, utopian ideals of the Sophistans, leading to the potential euthanasia of the two boys if they cannot adapt. The book primarily builds the foundation for what is to come in the series. The characters travel through familiar places like London and learn the value of exploring hyperspace despite the dangers of disintegration. The novel struggles under the weight of several heady concepts—an enlightened incorporeal intelligence; a blend of past, present and future; and various wormholes through space. The narrative seems to lose its momentum somewhere deep in the labyrinth of hyperspace.

A space journey sidelined by convoluted, high-concept subplots.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1463726379

Page Count: 255

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2012

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It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.


From the Harry Potter series , Vol. 1

In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name.

So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he’s to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer’s stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons’ eggs hatched on the hearth.

It’s slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-590-35340-3

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.


Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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