This imaginative and sweet coming-of-age tale is infused with the magic of first love.

THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE

The daughter and apprentice of a famous magic-worker who helps others fall in love doesn’t know the feeling herself.

Bay Area residents Mimosa and her mother are the world’s last two aromateurs, “love witches” with senses of smell so precise they, like their ancestors, perceive individual scentprints the way most people can distinguish faces. They dedicate themselves to making pro-bono customized love elixirs for clients. But the cost of being an aromateur is high for 15-year-old Mim: she’s not supposed to fall in love herself, or she’ll lose her “nose” and the ancestral profession will die. When Mim accidentally gives her algebra teacher’s scentprint elixir to school soccer star Court’s newly divorced mother, she must figure out a way to undo the damage before her mother finds out. The cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, starting with the multicultural Mim, her Samoan best friend Kali (who’s also LGBTQ), white Court, his Latina ex-girlfriend, and other identifiably ethnic students. Lee is a synesthete, and her appreciation of natural fragrances and botanicals is evident. Although not as exceptional as the author’s previous historical novels (Under a Painted Sky, 2015; Outrun the Moon, 2016), this contemporary fantasy is charming and likely to resonate with readers who gravitate toward romance or mother-daughter stories.

This imaginative and sweet coming-of-age tale is infused with the magic of first love. (Magical realism. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242832-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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