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BEASTS AND BEAUTY

DANGEROUS TALES

For any lover of fairy tales who seeks alternative endings.

A volume that transports readers to a place where the lines between beastly natures and beautiful appearances can be difficult to discern.

Here are 12 familiar European fairy tales, folktales, and classic stories retold in ways that evoke elements of the traditional versions, populated by slightly different casts, and focusing on particular aspects of their usual forms. The tales include, among others, an ironically named Snow White with dark skin, persecuted for the form her beauty takes; South Asian siblings who hopefully follow a trail of rosewater and saffron sweets after being left in the forest by their father and stepmother; and a beautiful brown-skinned prince cursed to appear as a beast and the Chinese girl who moves into his castle to spare her father’s life (the two of them bond over books). The entries are expertly crafted with a deep understanding of the source material and are updated with feminist sensibilities, the addition of some queer relationships, and the inclusion of racial and ethnic diversity. Chainani’s writing is raw in what it lays bare on the page, perfectly appropriate to revisiting these beloved, ubiquitous stories that may have left readers with naïve expectations or dissatisfied conclusions. Chainani infuses his retellings with practicality while still evoking the wonder, terror, and magic of the fantasy realms. Final illustrations not seen.

For any lover of fairy tales who seeks alternative endings. (Fantasy. 11-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-265263-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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POWERLESS

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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