BATTLE MAGIC

Pierce continues to fill gaps in her Circle of Magic sequence—here sending three of her mages eastward to defend the (Tibet-ish) land of Gyongxe against an invasion from (China-esque) Yanjing.

Falling chronologically between the events in Street Magic (2001) and Melting Stones (2008), the tale focuses on plant mages Rosethorn and Briar and stone mage Evumeimei. They travel from small but mountainous Gyongxe to the rich palace of Emperor Weishu in Evvy’s adjacent homeland and then back in a series of battles and tests of both magic and character. Though the popular author’s prose and pacing are as fluent as ever, her efforts to elaborate on or at least disguise her cultural models are, at best, cursory, and her plotting is likewise paint-by-numbers. Having trotted from pillar to post, the central trio splits up at the story’s exact center so that Evvy can go off to a first meeting with the animate mountain’s heart that will be her traveling companion in later adventures, while Rosethorn and Briar essentially march in place, from a narrative standpoint anyway. The three reunite in time to see Weishu and his teeming armies engage Gyongxe’s many major and minor gods in a climactic battle. Pierce herself has teeming armies of fans, guaranteeing that this routine, cozily predictable outing will be a huge seller. (map, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-439-84297-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Sweet, if unremarkable.

BRIARHEART

A gentle “Sleeping Beauty”–inspired tale of teens training to defend a baby princess.

Fifteen-year-old Miri, beloved stepdaughter of the king, is freshly in love—with her baby sister. As the novel opens, Aurora’s christening looms, and any Disney fan will know what’s coming. However, this is Miri’s story, and pages of first-person description and exposition come before those events. Tirendell, like all kingdoms, has Light and Dark Fae. Dark Fae feed off human misery and sadness, but their desire to cause harm for self-benefit is tempered by the Rules. The Rules state that they can only act against humans under certain conditions, one being that those who have crossed them, for example, by failing to invite them to a royal christening, are fair game. Miri steps up instinctively at the moment of crisis and both deflects the curse and destroys the Dark Fae, which leads to the bulk of the novel: an extended and detailed day-to-day journey with Miri and her five largely indistinguishable new friends as they train in combat and magic to protect Aurora from future threats. With limited action and a minimal plot, this story lacks wide appeal but is notable for the portrait of deep familial love and respect, while the brief, episodic adventures (including talking animals) offer small pleasures. All characters are implied to be White.

Sweet, if unremarkable. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5745-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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