Unexpected, uncanny, unforgettable.

WHEN MY HEART WAS WICKED

A mix of the mundane and the magical permeates this slender portrait of a girl in pain.

After a childhood bouncing between her mother, possibly a witch and probably unstable, and her father, whose presence made it possible for Lacy to see magic and beauty everywhere, Lacy’s mother, Cheyenne, disappeared. Her mother’s influence gone, Lacy’s darkness blossomed into light and kindness. But her father has died, and although stepmother Anna wants to keep her, Cheyenne returns to drag Lacy back to Sacramento. Lacy narrates in lush, almost magical prose: “Smoke billows out and bits of glowing ember consume the creases of the paper like growing things, red mushrooms in a sped-up video.” This lyricism exists side by side with gritty realism: slut-shaming and mean girls, childhood abuse suffered by classmate Martin, and the nonstop emotional and physical neglect and abuse Lacy endures from her own mother. Sometimes horrifying and sometimes charming, this is a powerful if uneven novel. Lacy sees herself as a battleground between light and dark, and she must find her own way even as she deals with levels of grief and pain she’s almost unable to face; readers may be left uncomfortable when that way seems to forgive her mother, but they will rejoice in the confirmation that we are what we make ourselves, regardless of the darkness that surrounds.

Unexpected, uncanny, unforgettable. (Magical realism. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-69573-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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