Original but too sloppily executed for success.

BETWEEN THE WATER AND THE WOODS

Village girl encounters magic, heads to the big city, and meets a handsome knight and steam-carriages.

Sixteen-year-old Emeline lives in a village so small and remote that they don’t even use money, but when she and her brother spot an Ithin, a legendary Dark Creature, they, along with their widowed father, a neighbor, and a stowaway, head to the capital: The law requires they report the sighting to the king in person. Along the way they meet a Lash Knight and become embroiled in the philosophical and political feud between Sapients and Theurgists. Lovely illustrations from Kipin (The Language of Thorns, 2017) elevate this debut but don’t make up for the nonexistent plot (mostly conversation and sightseeing) or the haphazard worldbuilding. Technology ranges from nonexistent to programmable automata; silver is used for bullets and any number of other uses for which it’s likely too soft; magic runs in the Keldare people, but at the same time anyone can join the Keldare. Imagination is on full display, but multiple threads compete to be the central seam, to the detriment of narrative flow. Note that the art depicts Emeline as darker-skinned and love interest Reese lighter; the text focuses mostly on fashion and finance, not skin tone, although some variation is implied.

Original but too sloppily executed for success. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4020-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Sweet, if unremarkable.

BRIARHEART

A gentle “Sleeping Beauty”–inspired tale of teens training to defend a baby princess.

Fifteen-year-old Miri, beloved stepdaughter of the king, is freshly in love—with her baby sister. As the novel opens, Aurora’s christening looms, and any Disney fan will know what’s coming. However, this is Miri’s story, and pages of first-person description and exposition come before those events. Tirendell, like all kingdoms, has Light and Dark Fae. Dark Fae feed off human misery and sadness, but their desire to cause harm for self-benefit is tempered by the Rules. The Rules state that they can only act against humans under certain conditions, one being that those who have crossed them, for example, by failing to invite them to a royal christening, are fair game. Miri steps up instinctively at the moment of crisis and both deflects the curse and destroys the Dark Fae, which leads to the bulk of the novel: an extended and detailed day-to-day journey with Miri and her five largely indistinguishable new friends as they train in combat and magic to protect Aurora from future threats. With limited action and a minimal plot, this story lacks wide appeal but is notable for the portrait of deep familial love and respect, while the brief, episodic adventures (including talking animals) offer small pleasures. All characters are implied to be White.

Sweet, if unremarkable. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5745-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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