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A delight for both existing fans and newcomers.

Sally must save her town from a sleeping curse before Halloween comes.

Sally is at last married to Pumpkin King Jack Skellington. Nothing could be more perfect as they depart for a one-day honeymoon to Valentine’s Town. But after a chance meeting with elegant Ruby Valentino, Queen of Valentine’s Town, Sally begins having doubts about her newfound status as Pumpkin Queen. These doubts only grow upon their return to Halloween Town, as the residents begin pressuring Sally into fulfilling their ideas of a good queen. With Halloween only two weeks away and Jack focused on making the holiday a success, Sally despairs. Upset, she flees to the grove of portal trees, where she is drawn to one with a mysterious hidden door. Loyal ghost dog Zero stops her from passing through it, but on returning home, Sally discovers she may have let a terrible monster out of its prison. With the Sandman on the loose, the citizens of Halloween Town fall under his sleeping spell, and it’s up to Sally to save the day. Sally’s adventure gives some much-needed expansion to the other holiday worlds and her backstory with Dr. Finkelstein. The perspective through which Sally sees the world keeps the narrative grounded in Halloween Town even while she explores other areas. While some parts of the ending are unsatisfactory, witnessing Sally uncover her true self and come into her own takes readers on a satisfying journey.

A delight for both existing fans and newcomers. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-06960-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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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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