Though set in the 1490s, this provocative blend of fantasy and history offers loads of contemporary appeal

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HAMMER OF WITCHES

An engaging, magical adventure set against the historical backdrop of Columbus’ westward voyage.

Young Baltasar, a converso (a Spanish Jew converted to Catholicism), relies on his wits to distract the village bully by telling an amusing tale. Soon after, Bal discovers his storytelling has magical properties when he summons a monster to ward off the Malleus Maleficarum, witch-hunting Inquisitors after Bal’s father. Intent on escaping and finding the father he thought dead, Bal is hired as translator on none other than the Santa Maria, captained by Columbus himself. The voyage takes Bal on the uncharted seas of Columbus’ famous voyage and into adventures that include sea beasts and secrets from Bal’s own past. Though keeping track of all the Spanish-named seamen can be a challenge, Mlawski’s central characters—Jinniyah, a genie Bal summons, and Catalina, a fellow storyteller, in addition to Bal himself—are imaginative and well-developed, and her swashbuckling pace and intriguing plotting keep readers at seat’s edge. This story is told entirely from Bal’s perspective, but by placing him on the Santa Maria and inside the Caribbean villages the expedition visits, Mlawski invites young readers to see the familiar Columbus story from another perspective—and to consider the power of stories to shape perception in everyday life. Backmatter includes a helpful author’s note and pronunciation guide.

Though set in the 1490s, this provocative blend of fantasy and history offers loads of contemporary appeal . (Historical fantasy. 11-15)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60060-987-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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