Well worth it for ravenous fans of quest stories.

CHARLIE HERNÁNDEZ & THE CASTLE OF BONES

From the Charlie Hernández series , Vol. 2

Charlie and his best friend, Violet, return, this time to save the Witch Queen of Toledo—who may not need saving after all.

Since readers left him in Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows (2018), Charlie has been trying to improve his control over his morphling powers, which allow him to manifest as different animals. His adult handler, Queen Joanna, is supposed to be there to help him, but one day he and Violet find she has been kidnapped, so they take it upon themselves to rescue her. The clues she seems to have left behind lead them to Brazil and beyond; just as in the first installment, they dodge gods, beasts, and monsters of Iberian lore and legend along the way. Mexican-American Charlie is able to identify the creatures they find as they traverse South America (thanks to some magical modes of travel) while white-presenting Violet is the mastermind who figures ways out of tricky situations. Predictably, they get out of all the traps they find themselves in, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t truly gruesome and scary events along the way. Spanish and Portuguese are unitalicized and, thankfully, not translated in line but rather left to context. Oddly, Brazilian trickster god Saci peppers his sentences with a fair bit of Spanish, even at times when it seems more linguistically logical to use Portuguese. Readers who have not read the first volume should not have trouble catching up, but it does require quite an attention span to keep track of people and events.

Well worth it for ravenous fans of quest stories. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2661-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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.

THE ICKABOG

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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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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