Fans of the first book and lovers of Norse legend may enjoy, but there’s better for fantasy-adventure lovers.

THE STRANGE MAID

From the United States of Asgard series , Vol. 2

Can Signy solve the riddle that stands between her and her rightful place among the Valkyrie?

Ten years ago, when she was 7, Signy’s parents died in an accident. In her grief, during a visit to the New World Tree, she climbed the Tree and met Odin Alfather; he renamed her Signy Valborn, handing her her destiny: to become the next Valkyrie of the Tree, one of nine Valkyries who help run the United States of Asgard. The day after her 15th birthday, a riddle appeared on the trunk of the New World Tree; since she couldn’t solve it, Signy set out to find her answer. Two years of sometimes-homeless living later, she’s still looking…until she meets Ned Unferth, who says he can provide her the answer. He says that “The Valkyrie of the Tree will prove herself with a stone heart” means she must kill a troll and take its heart, which becomes stone in daylight. She trusts the truth rune she sees in his eye, and they set off to train and find a troll. Gratton’s follow-up to The Lost Sun (2013) is more entertaining and engaging than its predecessor, but the tale’s padded with so many complications it’s easy to put down. There’s such a surfeit of navel-gazing that Signy should be able to map her own spinal column.

Fans of the first book and lovers of Norse legend may enjoy, but there’s better for fantasy-adventure lovers. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-97751-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This solid, enchanting fantasy boasts a palpable atmosphere and moves at a breakneck pace.

THE RAVENS

From the Ravens series , Vol. 1

YA all-stars Morgan and Paige team up to present a witchy take on sorority life.

College freshman Vivi Devereaux can’t wait to go to Savannah’s Westerly College and escape the scams her mother has run to make ends meet—most involving tarot card readings—but she quickly stumbles upon a different type of magic. At a rush party for Kappa Rho Nu, she meets junior Scarlett Winter, a charismatic witch in the running to lead the sorority—which is in fact a front for a prestigious coven called the Ravens. At first hesitant, Vivi quickly warms up to the idea of being in a witch sorority, joining her fellow pledges in learning magic and forming tight bonds of friendship. But the coven has an ominous history involving dead sisters and dark magic, and Vivi and Scarlett get caught up in a dangerous, high-stakes mystery, all while balancing school, family issues, and boy trouble. This novel hits its story beats quickly and deftly, unfurling the plot through Scarlett’s and Vivi’s alternating points of view. The magic system is complex and original without being cumbersome, and it expertly conjures a supernatural, uncanny atmosphere intertwined with Greek life. Vivi is White, Scarlett is Black, and the supporting cast contains a range of diverse racial identities.

This solid, enchanting fantasy boasts a palpable atmosphere and moves at a breakneck pace. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-09823-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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