A stellar, mythical hero whose prowess and tenacity could easily drive her own series.


In this debut YA fantasy, a teenage assassin braves a ruthless crime lord and powerful immortals to save her sister.

Eighteen-year-old Shin Lina is the Reaper, the Kingdom of Sunpo’s greatest assassin. But a year ago, her gang, the Talons, died at the hands of rivals, and now Lina works for her enemy, Konrarnd Kalmin. She has no choice, as Kalmin incessantly threatens the life of her sister, Eunbi. During Lina’s latest gig, she snatches a jewel-embedded tapestry from a long-abandoned temple in the dilapidated kingdom. That theft sparks unexpected retaliation, and both Lina and Kalmin, against their will, end up in Gyeulcheon, the hidden realm of Dokkaebi, or immortals. It’s Haneul Rui (better known as the Pied Piper) who’s brought them there, and he offers a chance for Lina to escape. All she has to do is kill Gyeulcheon’s emperor—Rui himself. She agrees to this twisted “game,” as Kalmin’s cronies back in the mortal realm still pose a threat to Eunbi. But Rui proves awfully hard to kill, and his handsomeness doesn’t make her lethal objective any easier. Kim’s retelling of Korean mythologies delivers a diverse cast and excels at character development. For example, Lina continually worries about getting back to Eunbi, and periodic flashbacks lead up to the Talons’ final day. At the same time, romantic moments between Lina and her captor are well earned, while a backstory reveals glimpses into Rui’s past. Although the skills of highly trained Lina are without question, the leisurely narrative primarily unfolds in luxurious Gyeulcheon, where her punishments (for failed assassination attempts) are no harsher than palace kitchen duties. Nonetheless, the Dokkaebi who surround Lina raise the stakes, from a brewing rebellion to a few immortals more dangerous than Rui. Kim may have a series in the works, as she closes her book with a subplot or two unresolved.

A stellar, mythical hero whose prowess and tenacity could easily drive her own series.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64937-280-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)


In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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