ONCE UPON A TIDE

A MERMAID'S TALE

This little mermaid has some outsized ambitions that are tempered with reality, ocean style.

Lana, a 14-year-old half-mermaid, half-human princess, is unexpectedly appointed by her father, King Carrack of Clarion, to be an ambassador of his underwater kingdom. Lana is required to attend the Royal Festival, an important political gathering that takes place on the land above her ocean home. Her younger brother, Aarav, is delighted she is attending, and together, they make the transition to land. This involves growing legs—something that happens easily and instantly due to their human heritage—and reconnecting with their mother, Princess Hyacinth, with whom Lana has a distant, difficult relationship. This is further complicated by the appearance of her mother’s new boyfriend, King Petyr. The plot thickens when Lana’s new status as ambassador is denied, seemingly by her mother. Once she’s been on land for 10 days, Lana discovers her disturbing ability to read other people’s minds. A natural disaster in her underwater home challenges Lana’s natural leadership talents, and she heads back to the ocean underworld, but, increasingly aware of her political influence, Lana returns to her grandparents’ earthly palace, determined to reconcile with her mother and Petyr. The story reinforces the idea that you really can learn from your mother, however impossible that may seem—and, awkwardness aside, mind-reading can be fun. Main characters default to White; Lana has twin friends with Japanese names.

A lighthearted adventure. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05443-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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