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A WHISPER IN THE WALLS

From the Waxways series , Vol. 2

Substantial and satisfying: Readers will look forward to being reunited with these characters.

A brilliant magician who seeks to destroy the system of inequality propping up her world is aided by new allies and feels the complications of romance in this middle entry in the Waxways trilogy.

As expected, Landwin Brood doesn’t appreciate Theo’s new bond to Ren Monroe; despite her brilliance and magical prowess, Landwin won’t look past her Lower Quarter origins. Although Landwin attempts to separate them, Ren maintains her single-minded focus on revenge. Unbeknownst to Thugar, the eldest Brood, Dahvid and Nevelyn Tin’Vori, who are in hiding, are also out for vengeance as descendants of another family who fell victim to the Broods. Their alliance with Ren and Theo (if he can be trusted) will be the key to bringing down House Brood, but success hangs delicately on an intricate plan that could go wrong in deadly ways. While this sequel to A Door in the Dark (2023) has less breakneck action and high-octane adventure than the first volume, it more than compensates with a slow-building and intensely suspenseful plot that plays to Reintgen’s strength in creating well-defined, emotionally convincing characters. The novel is narrated in multiple third-person points of view, and Ren and Theo’s romance keeps pace, developing slowly but skillfully into something undeniable and sparkling. Themes of loyalty, familial expectations, and personal choice are woven into a world that makes space for sharp-edged girls, tender-hearted boys, and everyone in between. Central cast members are cued white.

Substantial and satisfying: Readers will look forward to being reunited with these characters. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9781665930468

Page Count: 416

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE DARKNESS WITHIN US

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy.

The underestimated sister of a soon-to-be queen has her own tale to tell in this companion novel to Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us (2020).

Nineteen-year-old Chrysantha and her younger sister, Alessandra, who’s the fiancee of the Shadow King, don’t have the best relationship. Chrysantha has always been jealous of how easily Alessandra achieves success, while Alessandra thinks Chrysantha is a fool. For her part, Chrysantha uses this reputation as a facade and a means to an end while she patiently awaits the demise of her lewd—and wealthy—husband, the Duke of Pholios. With Chrysantha’s assistance, the 64-year-old duke dies, allowing his widow to drop the charade and focus on being independent and spending money according to her own whims and desires. That is, until distractingly handsome 18-year-old Eryx Demos arrives, claiming to be her late husband’s heir who’s ready to take control of the estate. Combining her objectives of outshining Alessandra at her royal wedding with enjoying some captivating arm candy and gaining Eryx’s trust in order to stab him in the back, Chrysantha takes up the job of molding Eryx into a proper duke. Chrysantha’s and Eryx’s wickedly charming personalities clash in the most pleasing and seductive ways, so that even though the plot feels repetitive at times, there’s still much to delight in. Chrysantha’s skin is “dark beige”; Eryx is “tanned” and has “tawny-brown hair.”

Banter and sexual tension abound in this enjoyable enemies-to-lovers fantasy. (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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