A worthy companion book, with storytelling strong enough to interest even readers unfamiliar with the original novel or its...

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A LITTLE IN LOVE

The story of Eponine Thenardier, a side character from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, is told here, from early childhood to untimely death.

Born to almost cartoonishly money-hungry parents, Eponine is taught to steal from a young age. She feels uncomfortable cheating people, but she loves the way a successful night of thievery elicits her mother’s pride and affection. As Eponine grows up, her internal conflicts grow deeper: please her family or follow her conscience? Do good deeds or cruel ones? Steal or starve? Eponine’s choices and observations are rendered in simple and evocative language—a pebble of sadness knocking in her heart when she longs to be loved, viscerally felt daydreams “that one day I’d be pretty, and I walk with a boy…in a skirt that went shush…shush…shush.” When Eponine’s father kills a man in a robbery gone wrong, the family flees to Paris. There, Eponine meets Marius, the young man whom readers know from the prologue, if not from the source text, that she will die saving. Though the bittersweetness of Eponine’s doomed, unrequited love shines through the later parts of the book, the deeper story about goodness and kindness is just as carefully and compellingly told.

A worthy companion book, with storytelling strong enough to interest even readers unfamiliar with the original novel or its many adaptations. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-82960-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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