A page-turning fantasy with a daring protagonist, thrilling mysteries, and romance.

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In this debut YA epic fantasy from Filipina Canadian author Barbosa, a cursed girl must rescue her mother while competing to become the ruler of Tigang.

Seventeen-year-old Narra Jal has been searching for her mother, Shora Jal, since she went missing eight months ago. One month ago, Narra and her sister, Kuran, received word that Shora had been arrested. As the book opens, Narra returns to her birthplace, Bato-Ko—the capital city of Tigang—hoping to find a record of Shora’s arrest. Narra is successful, but Manong Alen, the Archivist who points her to Shora’s arrest record, becomes suspicious of her motives and follows her out of the city. Narra, who hides nearby, sees a magic-wielding Tigangi woman in royal garb intercept the clearly intimidated Archivist. Manong Alen calls the woman Arisa moments before she murders him. We learn that Arisa is the Astar, “a ceremonial position in the government,” though Narra isn’t yet aware of Arisa’s position or the role she will play in her future. Arisa calls a Guardian to move the body, and Narra is struck by intense déjà vu: She somehow knows the Guardian, who is named Teloh. The author depicts an intriguing romance between Narra and Teloh as Narra attempts to untangle her fragments of memory surrounding him. Narra devises a risky plan to rescue Shora: Enter the Sundo, a deadly competition in the glass fortress where, “once a decade, people from all over our country gather to select a new ruler,” learn her mother’s exact location within the fortress, and free her. Barbosa’s characters are vivid on the page. Narra, for example, is guarded but still compassionate. The author also excels at building suspense: “In a little over two weeks, the country of Tigang will crown its new ruler. This means in three days’ time, people will start dying.” The mysteries of Narra’s curse, Shora’s fate, and the hauntingly familiar Teloh will keep readers invested even before the Sundo begins.

A page-turning fantasy with a daring protagonist, thrilling mysteries, and romance.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781649373366

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023


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

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


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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