LOWLANDS

A lovely, smart, and haunting adventure tale.

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In Gallagher’s debut YA novel, a teenage boy in Queens, New York, meets a young woman from a mysterious culture who changes his outlook on life.

James Ward leads a fairly everyday American life with a quiet family, a few friends, a few bullies, and the usual high school workload. But one day, he meets a strange teenage Irish girl named Cornelia Parsons, who lives nearby with her old-fashioned aunt, Vivien Widdershins. Almost without him realizing it, his new acquaintances slowly initiate him into a hidden world involving tribes of Celtic travelers, itinerant people with a long, secret history and laws, language, and lifestyles that are uniquely their own. Over the course of his high school year, James learns more about the travelers and becomes fascinated by their culture’s blend of rough criminality, clannish insularity, and poetic beauty. He’s soon drawn into Vivien’s struggle to establish her title as queen of the traveler people, and he becomes willing to confront great dangers. Along the way, James learns life lessons and more about his own background as he heeds the call of a new, romantic worldview. The story is highly engaging, with a varied array of nostalgic touches from different countries and periods. As a result, though, it’s sometimes difficult to gauge exactly when the story takes place, although it appears to be set in modern times. This nostalgic tone is clearly the author’s intention, and she even has characters allude to it in dialogue: “ ‘Reminiscences,” said Cornelia, rolling her R. ‘Nostalgia. What we do best.’ ” The various players are quietly but richly delineated, and their conversations ring true; James and Cornelia’s relationship is particularly strong. Indeed, the plot often takes a back seat to character development and exploration of the travelers’ secret world. This is a welcome choice, however, as Gallagher often handles it deftly. That said, readers may find themselves slowed down at times by the liberal sprinkling of pidgin English, Gaelic, Latin, and French words, used for color and literary effect.

A lovely, smart, and haunting adventure tale.

Pub Date: April 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60489-190-4

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Livingston Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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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