From the Circle Opens series , Vol. 3

Pierce turns somber in her saga of young mages-in-training (Street Magic, 2000, etc.), as the smith-mage Daja encounters a more sinister side to fire—and humanity. Daja accompanies her mentor Frostpine to the snowbound port of Kujisko to learn new skills, but herself becomes the teacher when she discovers the incipient magical talents of her hosts’ twin daughters. She also finds a hero in Bennat Ladradun, who transformed his personal tragedy into a firefighting crusade. Daja lends her magic to his mission, rescuing victims from blazing holocausts, and crafting a pair of fireproof gloves. But when investigators suggest arson, she must confront the smoldering motivations that ignite to murder. Daja may have the least distinctive voice among Pierce’s adolescent mages, but she more than compensates with the searing drama of her tale. While her efforts to train the mischievous twins offers some light relief, the overall tone is as dark as the northern setting. The devastation caused by the fires is described with graphic (though not gratuitous) intensity. When Pierce reveals that the obsessed Bennat is the arsonist, Daja’s betrayal and disillusionment will be shared by readers, who have been accustomed of late to seeing firefighters in a heroic light. Yet Pierce also celebrates the virtues of control and craftsmanship, from the simple joy Daja finds in learning to skate to the blossoming of her pupils under hard work and discipline. An absolute must for fans of the series, the minimal backstory also makes this an exciting and thoughtful stand-alone fantasy. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-39655-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?