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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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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