Fiery, icy, sad, thrilling.

THE TRUE QUEEN

From the Impostor Queen series , Vol. 3

It takes two people to make one queen.

Elli (The Impostor Queen, 2016) is Valtia—queen—of Kupari. Only two other people know she secretly lacks the innate fire and ice magic that the real Valtia would have. Elli can balance and channel magic, but the magic must be someone else’s. Meanwhile, Ansa (The Cursed Queen, 2017) and her people, the Krigere, edge toward Kupari, not necessarily planning to raid and plunder it but desperate for a place to live. Ansa bursts with fire and ice magic so forceful that she kills accidentally and endangers herself. As Elli and Ansa alternate the first-person narration, Fine crafts tantalizing oppositions of what each protagonist knows (sometimes falsely) about the other. Readers always know the truth. Two magic-wielding elders figure prominently: Raimo, faithful to Elli, and centuries-old Kauko, manipulative, cruel, and grotesque. A twisting and unpredictable plot—inexplicable earthquakes, battles, witch hunts, loss of beloveds, trickery, passion, loyalty, betrayal, fire, ice, and (nonconsensual) blood drinking—balances deliciously with the magnetic pull of destiny toward Elli and Ansa’s predetermined final family. The protagonists, both explicitly queer, are from radically different cultures that speak different languages, though both of them (and almost everyone) are white.

Fiery, icy, sad, thrilling. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9060-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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