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HUNTED BY THE SKY

From the Wrath of Ambar series , Vol. 1

A fast-paced romantic fantasy set in a thoughtfully built, diverse world.

After 15-year-old Gul watches Sky Warriors murder her parents, she vows to assassinate those responsible.

Her targets are King Lohar, the cruel ruler of Ambar, and Major Shayla, a ruthless commander of the Sky Warriors. Gul’s parents died protecting her: She is a magus—a human capable of wielding magic—born with a star-shaped birthmark on her arm. According to an ancient prophecy, a magus girl with a similar mark will someday kill the king. While Gul is convinced she isn’t the girl from the prophecy—she has been unable to perform magic since she was a baby—the world seems to believe otherwise. With the help of the mysterious Sisterhood of the Golden Lotus, Gul manages to get herself a job at the palace—and to fall in love with Cavas, a nonmagi with some dark secrets of his own. Weaving together Indian and Persian mythology, the story features a diverse cast of brown-skinned villains and heroes. The action is nail-biting, and the romantic scenes shimmer. At first, the intricately built world is so detailed that the story can be hard to follow; that being said, Gul’s and Cavas’ fascinating backstories and burgeoning relationship—all of which unfold in the final two-thirds of the book—make this initial effort worthwhile.

A fast-paced romantic fantasy set in a thoughtfully built, diverse world. (map, glossary, author’s note) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-31309-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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