Epic adventure and steamy smooches make for a crowd-pleasing formula.

TRUTHWITCH

From the Witchlands series , Vol. 1

Two devoted friends dreaming of independence contend with unfathomable magic and the schemes of empires in this action-packed series opener.

Safiya and Iseult are an unlikely pair. Safi, the hotheaded daughter of an impoverished but noble family, is a Truthwitch, born with the rare ability to tell if someone is telling the truth or lying. Quiet Iseult is a Nomatsi Threadwitch, despised for her ethnic identity but gifted with the ability to perceive the emotions of others as colored threads. When the two friends become fugitives from the law, they decide to flee together, not realizing that Safi’s witchery has already made them targets in a larger political struggle. Dennard (Strange and Ever After, 2014, etc.) jumps from alternate history with zombies to epic fantasy with this new series. Her worldbuilding is impressively detailed, though neither the vaguely European setting nor the magic system breaks much new ground. The cinematic action scenes keep the storytelling brisk, and the rotating third-person narration introduces not only Safi and Iseult, but also Merik, the prince of an impoverished small nation, and Aeduan, a mercenary. The overall characterization is uneven, but readers captivated by the intense friendships and burgeoning romances will probably be happy to overlook the novel’s flaws.

Epic adventure and steamy smooches make for a crowd-pleasing formula. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7928-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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