The partially defined world has potential but not enough to overcome the plot contrivances.

WEATHER WITCH

The lives of an accused Witch, her would-be suitor and the man seeking to develop her alleged magic all intersect in an alternate-history fantasy.

Lady Jordan Astraea lives a life of luxury in the strict (yet woefully underdefined) class system of the New World of 1844. In this history, the colonists escaped the Old World for a land where magic is strictly outlawed. On the night of her high-society 17th birthday, Lady Jordan is victimized, accused of being a Weather Witch. The mystery behind Jordan’s false accusation, obvious to readers, takes her the entire book to partially solve. Luckily, arresting Jordan means removing her from high society and the overly descriptive, lengthy sentences that aim to demonstrate rich decadence but end up clunky and baffling. Jordan is brought to the Maker, Bran Marshall, whose job is to torture witches. This somehow turns them into Conductors, an energy source used in place of electricity and steam power. Bran’s storyline, involving a newly arrived illegitimate daughter, features another painfully predictable twist as he grapples with the nature of his work. The bright spot is Jordan’s not-quite boyfriend, a witty lush who achieves heroism. The ending leaves almost all storylines open to set up for a sequel.

The partially defined world has potential but not enough to overcome the plot contrivances. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-01851-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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