Look past stale tropes to enjoy a sparkling fantasy



From the Twisted Ever After series , Vol. 1

This reimagining of “Rapunzel” is recounted by the young witch, Gothel, charged with her safekeeping.

Five years locked in the tower have taken a toll on both girls. Princess Rapunzel, weighed down by her ever growing tresses, is falling into madness—Gothel’s found rat bones in her hair. Yet when a prince arrives, determined to break the spell and marry Rapunzel, Gothel feels torn. Her own mother, who’d laid the spell, was killed by Rapunzel’s father, the high sorcerer who made Gothel his daughter’s caregiver. Gothel knows Rapunzel’s rescue foretells nothing good for her. On reaching Rapunzel, the prince falls into an enchanted sleep, and his handsome squire, Raj, persuades a reluctant Gothel to help him awaken the prince, but she explains they must first obtain the magical shears possessed by her aunts—powerful, dangerous witches in a distant castle—that can cut Rapunzel’s hair. On their hazardous journey they’re joined by a shape-changing dwarf in search of his name and a slightly dissolute dark elf with a magical lute. Beset by sand demons, a dragon, and mounting perils, Raj and Gothel fall in love. While Rapunzel and Gothel’s people are light-skinned, Raj is an Outlander, a member of a group of desert dwellers who embody tired Orientalist tropes. If trite romance clichés abound, so do welcome plot twists that reinvigorate the proceedings.

Look past stale tropes to enjoy a sparkling fantasy . (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63422-334-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Clean Teen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.


From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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