UNCANNY

A dark and twisty psychological thriller that straddles the question of what it means to be human.

A girl struggles to remember her involvement in her stepsister’s death, aided by an artificially intelligent therapeutic companion.

White teen Cora Dietrich can’t remember much of what happened the night her stepsister, Hannah, (also white) fell down the stairs to her death. They’d both been drinking, but Cora was far more intoxicated. An advanced camera nodule on her temple called a Cerapin could have captured everything, and the girls’ home AI, Franka, could have called for help, but both were turned off before the fall. As the new girl in town, Cora’s painted as suspicious by Hannah’s friends, and she’s certain that Gary, Hannah’s father, believes she murdered his daughter. Cora won’t help with the investigation, so Gary enlists the aid of a state-of-the-art therapeutic companion AI named Rafiq. Cora is quickly bowled over by handsome, olive-skinned Rafiq since he offers respite from her ever surveilling parents. Rafiq helps Cora uncover the truth of that night, all the while unraveling the secrets of the sisters’ fraught relationship as he reviews Hannah’s archive of Cerapin videos. Told through Cora’s and Rafiq’s perspectives, the story offers an intimate exploration of Cora’s claustrophobic world and Rafiq’s burgeoning autonomy. Readers will be hooked by the mystery and compelled by Cora’s and Rafiq’s distinctly surprising trajectories. Rafiq’s coloring and Muslim name go unexplored in the text.

A dark and twisty psychological thriller that straddles the question of what it means to be human. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4646-6

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

RUTHLESS VOWS

From the Letters of Enchantment series , Vol. 2

The well-paced romantic tension is a highlight of this enjoyable duology closer.

Even a war driven by gods can’t sever communication between journalist lovers Iris and Roman in this steampunk-adjacent romantic adventure.

A prologue sets the scene: Dacre, a god strummed to sleep by magic in Divine Rivals (2023), will not slumber forever. His willingness to wage war to acquire more powerful magic leads him to lay waste to entire towns, and Inkridden Tribune journalist Iris Winnow and war correspondent Roman Kitt can no longer be assured the other is safe—or even still alive. In Iris’ world of cigarette smoke, copper pipes, and driving goggles, colleagues affectionately call each other by their last names, watch each other’s backs, and face danger on the front lines. Though Underling Correspondent Roman is traveling with Dacre’s army, he questions why he was healed of his grievous wounds, while at the same time, he gradually recovers memories of Iris and recalls that she was special to him. Their magically connected typewriters allow for the rediscovery of their love and for communicating potentially deadly information about the invasion of Hawk Shire. The story primarily unfolds from Iris’ and Roman’s viewpoints, and while the prose occasionally uses well-worn phrases, Anglophiles will particularly enjoy the worldbuilding, and returning readers will welcome appearances from Capt. Keegan Torres; her wife, Marisol; and Dacre’s archnemesis—and wife—the goddess Enva. Main characters present white.

The well-paced romantic tension is a highlight of this enjoyable duology closer. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781250857453

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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