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From the Celestial Trilogy series , Vol. 3

A thrilling space opera and a fitting ending to an impressive trilogy.

Seventeen-year-old warrior Esmae Rey is tired of fighting.

She and her twin brother, Alexi, have been battling for the crown of the planet Kali, a kingdom that should be Esmae’s birthright. Esmae remains devastated that her mother, Kyra, not only sides with Alexi, but has been bent on killing Esmae to protect Alexi and their younger brother, Bear, from a curse prophesying that only two of Kyra’s three children would live. But when, after escaping another one of her mother’s deadly traps, Esmae is asked to kill Sorsha, a great beast who is endangering the universe, she wonders if her mission for revenge against her treacherous family is worth a potentially world-ending war. But even if she has a change of heart, can Esmae broker peace before she and everyone she loves lose what they truly value? This final volume in a gripping trilogy about the battle to claim Kali is, in some ways, lighter and more humorous than its predecessors, resting as it does on the firm foundations of relationships the author has skillfully built over the course of many pages. While the plot is action packed and the dialogue is witty and, at times, hilarious, the book’s biggest strength lies in the author’s profound knowledge of human nature and the slow, rewarding revelation of each character’s psychological development.

A thrilling space opera and a fitting ending to an impressive trilogy. (list of characters) (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5107-3380-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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From the Blood at the Root series , Vol. 1

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences.

Black diaspora magic manifests in a boy on the worst day of his life—but later, things only get more complicated.

When Malik Baron was 7, his mother vanished in the explosive moment his powers manifested while he defended them from mysterious cloaked figures. Ten years (and many foster homes later), the short-tempered Malik isn’t much better at controlling his powers, but he’s ready to leave Helena, Alabama, and start over with Taye, his foster brother. Reuniting with Mama Aya, the maternal grandmother in New Orleans he never knew, wasn’t part of the plan, but fate draws Malik to her—and into a secret world of magic. He discovers Caiman University—a sort of magical historically Black college—which may be where he’ll find answers to what happened to his mother. Narrator Malik, who uses colorful language, is fully aware of the Black Harry Potter subtext of his story, and he’s thoughtfully focused on protecting Taye, proving his mother is still alive, and surviving in a world that has never made things easy, even before supernatural threats emerged. The extensive worldbuilding incorporates West African, Caribbean, and Black American history and cultures to explain a magical reality hidden from view and relevant to the Black diaspora and Malik’s family history. When Malik bumps into an old friend and potential love interest on campus, everything is in place for him to grow into his powers, uncover the truth, and face new heartbreak.

A well-thought-out magical world that provocatively centers Black experiences. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593711927

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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