An involving police procedural wrapped in fantasy clothing, this novel provides both crackerjack storytelling and an...

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MASTIFF

From the Beka Cooper series , Vol. 3

Pierce's sturdy policewoman Beka Cooper returns for a triumphant trilogy conclusion.

The book opens at the interment of narrator Beka's fiancé, a fellow Dog; some three years have passed since the events of Bloodhound (2009). Far from being grief stricken, Beka feels a guilty relief at the release. She finds the prospect of a high-stakes Hunt with partner Tunstall positively invigorating, although the political stability of Tortall hinges on its success: The young heir to the throne has been kidnapped. Beka and Tunstall—and her animal companions, the supernatural cat Pounce and scent hound Achoo—are joined by Tunstall's lover, the lady knight Sabine, and a Dog mage, Farmer Cape. Farmer plays the fool, but Beka and company soon realize his powers and intellect far exceed those of the typical Kennel mage—a good thing, too, because Tortall's magical community appears to be allied against the king. Pierce has long been lauded for her kickass heroines, and in Beka she has created her most compelling, complicated character. The plainspoken Beka's moral compass never wavers, but there's believably human confusion at her core. Pierce's gutsiest move is starting with Beka's failed romance—thereby providing a welcome reality check for readers who have been peddled the eternal-first-love bill of goods from every direction.

An involving police procedural wrapped in fantasy clothing, this novel provides both crackerjack storytelling and an endearingly complex protagonist. (Fantasy/mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-81470-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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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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