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RAISING THE HORSEMAN

A sweet retelling of a spooky classic.

There are more charms than terrors in this reimagining of a supernatural tale.

Valentino’s eye for lavish detail focuses on Kat Van Tassel, an 18-year-old at Ichabod Crane High, named after Sleepy Hollow’s most infamous figure. Trapped in a life that feels all too planned out and a skeptic surrounded by those who believe in ghosts, Kat chafes at the way she’s fated to marry childhood sweetheart Blake, help run the family estate, and fulfill townspeople’s expectations. Kat has other aspirations, and her modern-day story mirrors the past she uncovers while reading Katrina Van Tassel’s diary entries, which are presented in chapters interspersed with the contemporary timeline. Katrina is a distant relative whose life was the source for many of the town’s myths and rituals. Blake attempts a spell with his friends, pushing Kat to participate against her wishes. Increasingly frustrated with him, Kat becomes fast friends with Isadora Crow, a mysterious, dark-haired classmate whom Blake dislikes. As Isadora and Kat explore Katrina’s diary, they begin to have feelings that are stronger than friendship. The young women’s curiosity about the diary grows—alongside their romance, which becomes more than a crush. Mild chills and dual timelines drive the plot; the latter at times are too neatly mirrored. Horror readers hungry for a retelling will find few scares, but the same-sex relationship breathes some new life into the legend. Most characters default to White.

A sweet retelling of a spooky classic. (Paranormal romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-05461-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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