Limned in stark red, white and black, this cold, delicate snowflake of a tale sparkles with icy magic.

AS RED AS BLOOD

From the Snow White Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This trilogy opener from a talented young author has a bracing energy that stands up to the most muscular of Scandinavian thrillers and a heroine more than equal to her competition.

Named for Snow White, Lumikki, 17, lives alone in Tampere, Finland, attending a magnet arts school far from her parents and hometown. If her grim childhood still prompts nightmares, it’s also given her important gifts—chief among them, her ability to deflect attention while closely observing those unaware of her. (Lumikki’s sure to draw comparison to Lisbeth Salander, but Peter Høeg’s Smilla is her true sister under the skin.) In her school’s darkroom, she stumbles into (literally) an appalling secret: thousands of dripping euros hung to dry. Despite an evident attempt to cleanse them, they still smell of blood. Within hours, Lumikki’s pulled into a claustrophobic conspiracy with three popular, high-profile students. Meanwhile, a young Russian woman not much older than Lumikki lies dead nearby, at the heart of the mystery into which Lumikki and her classmates are drawn. The starkly powerful opening paragraph of the Grimms’ “Snow White” provides the narrative frame, and it’s no flimsy high concept—rather, Simukka’s onto something: Fairy tales, like mysteries, present uncompromising moral imperatives—no soft, comforting shades of gray for even the youngest readers.

Limned in stark red, white and black, this cold, delicate snowflake of a tale sparkles with icy magic. (Thriller. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1477847718

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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