A quick read not without pleasures, but the premise is the best part.

READ REVIEW

FIRE & HEIST

A fantasy heist long on worldbuilding and short on theft.

Following her mother’s midheist disappearance, Sky Hawkins wants to determine what happened and repair her grieving family and their fall in wyvern society. Wyverns, this Earth’s famous-for-being-famous people, are formerly shape-shifting dragons exiled from Home. They look like and live among humans but have their own customs and rules; hoard size conveys status, and teens come of age with a first heist. Sky assembles her crew—loyal boyfriend, Ryan, whose vault Sky’s mother was robbing; book-smart human Gabriela Marquez, who mostly exists to drive Sky around and feel worthless compared to the adventurous wyverns; and brown-skinned wyvern wizard Maximus, who has his own plans—and schemes to follow her mother’s trail while Sky’s three protective older brothers and her father keep secrets. The heist is absurdly simple (they have an inside guy) and quickly gives way to many revelations and a journey Home, followed by a return and the requisite upending of society. Sky’s incredible wealth and privilege are acknowledged in her wry narration, but the poor-little-rich-girl refrain and self-consumed approach make her hard to like. Secondary characters largely lack depth. On the other hand, hints of the larger world—like wyvern-run California—intrigue. The Hawkins family is assumed white.

A quick read not without pleasures, but the premise is the best part. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-93100-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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