SCINTILLATE

From the Light Key Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In this debut YA novel, a teenage American girl goes back to Ireland to find the truth of who she is after she discovers a family secret and a new, supernatural ability.
When a sudden, debilitating illness places 17-year-old Cora Sandoval in the hospital, she wakes up with the unsettling power to see other people’s auras and judge their feelings by the colors she sees. She always sees herself, however, as glowing bright silver. To make things more confusing, Cora soon captures the attention of Finn, a handsome Irish exchange student who may be hiding secrets of his own. Unable to get any answers from her suspiciously tight-lipped father, Cora goes to Ireland to seek the truth, eventually uncovering the mystery of a special race called the Scintilla, of which her mother was a member. Scintilla are hunted by other beings called Arrazi, who gain power by taking other people’s life forces; this, it turns out, is what really happened to Cora’s mother, who vanished in Ireland when Cora was 5. Clark’s novel is laden with standard tropes: a bookish, unpopular heroine; a family secret; and, of course, a rakish, mysterious boy inexplicably drawn to the heroine. Yet these all provide a foundation for an intense story that expands on aspects of real history and mythology. Cora’s personality and deadpan humor pop off the page, as do the novel’s evocative, emotionally charged descriptions of people and places (“Do houses have memories, too? Can they recall the squeal of a little girl chasing after a grasshopper in the grass?”). Cora is an active heroine, using her aura-reading power, as well as a quickly developing ability to read the histories of objects, to traverse an unfamiliar country and discover illuminating treasures. The love story sometimes distracts from the plot, although it’s full of passion, as well as irrational jealousy when Cora meets a man with a silver aura like hers. However, it eventually becomes an integral part of the tale.
Despite typical paranormal teen traps, Clark’s novel is a powerful, heart-wrenching adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1622661459

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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