It’s a bleak and breathless read, one that will have readers hoping for a peaceful outcome as fervently as its characters...

THE WHATNOT

At the end of The Peculiar (2012), Bachmann’s debut, the evil faery Mr. Lickerish had used half-faery Bartholomew’s little sister, Hettie, as a Door to open the way between England and the Old Country; here is what happens next.

Years have passed in England, and humans are winning the country back from the faeries. One-eyed orphan Pikey (his other was stolen one night, a clouded, useless orb left in its place) ekes out a meager existence in London’s underbelly. When a faery returns a favor with an astonishing gem, he tries to pawn it and, predictably, ends up in deep trouble. Meanwhile, Hettie struggles to survive in the Old Country, where just a few days have passed. Captured by the lady Piscaltine and kept as her pet Whatnot, Hettie waits in terror for Bartholomew to rescue her. The story alternates between the Old Country and England, between twig-haired Hettie and Pikey; somehow, he can see her through his clouded eye, which makes him very valuable to Bartholomew, who rescues him from jail for its sake. Bachmann unleashes his boundless imagination in his descriptions of the Old Country, whose rules and landscape are capricious and ever-changing. Hettie’s terror is well-justified. Detail upon baroque detail piles up as Bartholomew and Pikey race to find Hettie, the war between humans and faeries inevitably catching them up in it—as does friendship.

It’s a bleak and breathless read, one that will have readers hoping for a peaceful outcome as fervently as its characters do. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-219521-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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