A fan-pleasing combination of fairy tale and thriller.

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TEAR YOU APART

This sequel to Kill Me Softly (2012) continues the adventures of the teen inhabitants of Beau Rivage, a town where fairy tales live again.

Viv has the Snow White curse. Her stepmother, Regina, clearly wants her dead, and Viv already knows the Huntsman fated to cut out her heart. The trouble is, she and that Huntsman, Henley, have been in love for years. As Viv realizes that the time of the curse is fast approaching, their relationship becomes strained. Viv hopes that Henley won’t kill her, but she can’t be sure. When Regina hires another Huntsman to make sure Viv dies, Viv decides to escape into the underworld. There, she meets the prince who is supposed to save her and marry her to live happily ever after—and she doesn’t like him at all. His father, the king of the underworld, turns out to be an extremely nasty sort indeed, one who will make Viv’s happily-ever-after life into unending torture. Viv still loves Henley, but she’s trapped in the underworld, and Henley can’t get to her. Meanwhile, other fairy tales play themselves out all around Viv. Can Viv find a way to thwart her curse? As before, Cross keeps readers guessing as she unfolds her mashup, bringing the German Märchen versions into the story with satisfyingly gruesome effect.

A fan-pleasing combination of fairy tale and thriller. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60684-591-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the...

CHILDREN OF VIRTUE AND VENGEANCE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Children of Blood and Bone (2018), Zélie and company are back, and the future of Orïsha hangs in the balance.

Zélie, now a maji Reaper, has achieved her goal and brought magic back to Orïsha, but at great cost. Grief and loss are strong themes throughout the book, compounded by guilt for Zélie, who feels responsible for her father’s death. Zélie and her older brother, Tzain, try to help Princess Amari ascend the throne, believing her family dead—but Queen Nehanda, Amari’s mother, is very much alive and more formidable than they could imagine. The trio join the Iyika, a band of rebel maji working to protect their persecuted people from threats new and old. Though the characters’ trauma reads as real and understandable, their decisions don’t always feel sensible or logical, often stemming from a lack of communication or forethought, which may leave readers frustrated. Though still commendable for its detailed worldbuilding, with an ending compelling enough to keep fans interested in the next installment, much of the book feels like navigating minefields of characters’ ill-advised decisions. All characters are black except for a secondary character with silky black hair, tan skin, and gray eyes “like teardrops.”

Second installments in trilogies sometimes slump—here’s hoping the third book is a return to the vibrancy of the first. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17099-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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