SANCTUM

From the Guards of the Shadowlands series , Vol. 1

A paranormal romance confirms that, indeed, hell is hell.

A convoluted sequence of events finds university-bound foster kid Lela, 17, dead. She wakes up in a paradisaical countryside—which she rejects in order to enter the Suicide Gates to save her best friend, Nadia, who killed herself a week before. Within the gates, hapless embodied souls wander aimlessly in an urban landscape of utter misery, kept in by Guards and threatened by Mazikin, who steal their bodies and condemn their souls to who-knows-where. Lela quickly draws the attention of both Guards and Mazikin, persuading the incredibly hot Malachi, human Captain of the Guard, to help her rescue Nadia. Fine’s gloomy city of suicides and the rules that govern it will draw readers in, though the motives of the thoroughly evil Mazikin are unclear. Her theology is equally fuzzy; readers who want to find the overt Christianity implied by the concept may need to wait for subsequent volumes. Theology be damned, though: Lela and Malachi are both likable protagonists, and readers will be happy (though not surprised) to find them drawn together; the supporting cast among the Guards is also strong. A touch of homoerotic creepiness to hammer home the evil of the Mazikin will distress many readers. This flaw notwithstanding, this trilogy opener has a lot going for it. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up) 

 

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Provocative fare for students of the themes and tropes of literary and traditional folk literature.

FEATHERS, PAWS, FINS, AND CLAWS

FAIRY-TALE BEASTS

Ten “vintage tales” chosen to challenge assumptions that fairy stories offer cut-and-dried values and life lessons for, specifically, children.

Reaching for an audience that is, as the editors put it, “beyond childhood,” the collection is introduced with an eye-opening analysis of “Little Red Riding Hood” (Perrault’s actual wording, it seems, hints that Little Red and the wolf weren’t exactly strangers) as part of a broad claim that fairy tales are often transgressive. The ensuing mix of original and traditional stories, all either written or first translated into English in the Victorian era, includes tales both familiar and un-. There’s “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon”; “Ballad of the Bird-Bride,” which is a selkie variant featuring a sea gull; a “Puss-in-Boots” antecedent (“Costantino Fortunato”) from 16th-century Italy; and a Punjabi tale about a rat who almost parlays a bit of found root into marriage to a princess. For younger readers, the highlight is likely to be Joseph Jacobs' rendition of “The Story of the Three Bears,” as the home invader is not Goldilocks but a foulmouthed old homeless woman. But the selections are held up more for analysis than enjoyment, even Madame d’Aulnoy’s “Babiole,” which makes for labored reading despite an eponymous princess who spends most of the tale as a monkey. Kusaite’s visual jumbles of patterns and textures are as mannered as the 19th-century prose.

Provocative fare for students of the themes and tropes of literary and traditional folk literature. (source notes) (Fairy tales. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8143-4069-1

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Wayne State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans.

THE HAWKWEED LEGACY

Witch queen Poppy Hawkweed returns in this sequel to The Hawkweed Prophecy (2016).

After the events of the last book, Poppy attempts to escape her new life as a witch queen by transforming into a swallow and migrating to Africa, though to what part of the vast continent is unclear. There, white Poppy’s taken in by a medicine maker, Mma, and her dark-skinned great-grandson, Teko. Though Mma and Teko are initially portrayed as likable characters, they eventually imprison Poppy, ostensibly for her own good, as they’ve seen a vision that she will be killed if she returns to England. Back in England, the third-person narrative perspective shifts among characters and times. There’s Poppy’s birth mother, Charlock, both in the present and when she was younger, as well as Leo, Ember, and Betony, Leo’s mother. Through the many lenses and back stories readers learn of Leo’s conception and what became of Betony, who left the witches to have her son. Teko eventually allows Poppy to escape, and once back in England, she’s bullied into taking up her queendom. But there are many twists and turns and painful betrayals to be hashed out before there’s a chance of happily ever after. Though themes of sisterhood are strong, most female relationships are interrupted, if not broken, by male intrusion. The real unbreakable bond in these stories is that between mother and child.

Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60286-314-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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