A heart-wrenching adventure with big laughs and well-earned surprises.

JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA

In a small village in Barbados, folklore comes to life, putting Josephine and everyone she loves in danger.

Jo can’t stand to see her widower fisherman father with other women, going so far as relentlessly pranking them and scaring them all away. The two are an otherwise tightknit father-daughter duo who struggle a bit to make ends meet. Everything changes when Mariss comes along and simply can’t be scared away; though no one else seems to notice, Jo immediately finds this woman as terrifying as zombies, vampires, and spinach! Mariss moves in and unsettles their lives in peculiar and unexplainable ways. Bourne adeptly makes Jo’s anxieties both realistic and sympathetic. As Mariss has a hypnotic effect on everyone, carefully plotted pieces of something larger and more sinister come into focus. A last straw for Jo is that Mariss can negatively affect her cricket batting. She has to be a sea spirit or a mermaid—or something else. Maybe. Jo’s investigation, with the help of her best friend and the library, is compelling and suspenseful as it delves into Afro-Caribbean mythology. Still, when it becomes clear that the stakes are her father’s happiness and, ultimately, his life, the mystery woman’s most threatening power may be how convincingly she’s able to gaslight an 11-year-old and isolate her from everyone and everything important to her.

A heart-wrenching adventure with big laughs and well-earned surprises. (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64208-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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