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THE PHANTOM'S CURSE

A medieval-inflected fantasy that will appeal to female action-hero aficionados.

The age-old battle between good and evil is fought in this swashbuckling feminist fantasy in which a courageous young woman saves the world from an evil phantom.

Davis Reign, a soldier and survivor of the apocalypse, kills the phantom’s host and, with his novice sorcerer friend Cassias, rebuilds the world. When his wife dies, Reign loses his power and dark magic returns to the land. It’s up to plucky 16-year-old Marianne Fitz to quell the rising powers of evil. Torn from her parents by Reign and left alone to care for her little brother, Newt, in the poor Link district, Marianne first encounters Reign’s son, her intimidating yet seductive adversary Crawford, when she is invited to the city for a coming-of-age ceremony. Using her incipient magical powers and her pronounced street-fighting talents, Marianne rescues her brother from the jail he is thrown in by Crawford’s henchmen, saves three maidens in peril, and helps to right the balance of good and evil in the world. Her true identity is finally revealed in the dramatic denouement. Marianne’s story is told in a fast-paced, engaging first-person narrative that moves skillfully between sympathy-evoking personal experience and broad-ranging, sometimes violent action. The city of Obanac and the surrounding landscape are evocatively portrayed, adding richness and depth to an otherwise mundane plot.

A medieval-inflected fantasy that will appeal to female action-hero aficionados. (bonus short story: “The Black Riders”) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64397-071-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

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THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

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

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

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 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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