Highly sophisticated and fully immersive.

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THE BRILLIANT DARK

From the The Realms of Ancient series , Vol. 3

The Realms of Ancient trilogy concludes as fractured factions stare down an imminent apocalypse.

In the seven years since Children of the Bloodlands (2018), the mass unveiling of the Denizens, the open appearance of monsters, and the looming Darkling Moon have radically altered society. Now Mundanes oppress Denizens while the Elemental Task Guard, overseen by the United Nations and operating under the guise of unification, seeks to eliminate the threat of Denizen magic through their mysterious, sinister-sounding programs. Large amounts of exposition are interwoven with Saskia’s storyline, both refreshing readers on the sprawl of the previous books and illuminating societal changes. Now a rebellious teenager raised by Phae, she’s a talented Mundane hacker in the service of Denizens until the Task Guard catches her and offers her a job. The Moth Queen, the personification of Death, also has an eye on Saskia. Saskia must play all sides while sifting through the increasingly complicated mythologies to find a way to get Roan and Eli—and the Ancient—back in time to save the world in a storyline with twists aplenty. The cast is multiracial and multicultural, with Scottish and Japanese lead Saskia, returning supporting characters such as Inuit Natti (who explicitly sees the intersectionalities at play in the new order), and other minor characters; both straight and lesbian romances are represented, and there’s a genderqueer character.

Highly sophisticated and fully immersive. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77041-359-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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