Ardent grammar students may enjoy parsing the language. Other people may suspect the author is having more fun than they are.

OTHER WORDS FOR SMOKE

A teacher could get an entire unit on grammar and sentence construction out of this horror novel.

Some sections of the book are written in the second person (“Your scream is caught in your throat as you stare”), others have eccentric capitalization (“there are children in the house and i am hungry”), and many pages include footnotes that argue with the main text and deflate the characters’ illusions about life. When a character is told, “You will forgive your parents,” the footnote reads, “Almost.” Arrested Development fans may be reminded of Ron Howard’s dry, matter-of-fact narration. Some readers will find all the different speech patterns distracting, and the story—about love and rivalry in a family of magicians—is puzzling enough as it is. In one chapter, a supernatural being tries to bring a young witch under his thrall by showing her all the wonders he can offer. He guides her into a secret chamber where she sees…a room filled with moths. Many people will find entomology less than tempting. There are too many sorcerers’ voices in the book, and the stakes of their battles are too abstract. (The characters are white but often queer.) Some passages are also overwritten. “Love is the realest thing” almost demands a comment from Ron Howard.

Ardent grammar students may enjoy parsing the language. Other people may suspect the author is having more fun than they are. (Fiction. 14-19)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-240891-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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