Less than the sum of its many interesting parts.

SHADOWBOXER

Mixed martial arts, Thai legend and human trafficking come together in this gritty fantasy adventure.

Seventeen-year-old martial artist Jade Barrera’s anger management issues threaten to sabotage her dreams of winning a title on the professional fight circuit. After she assaults a movie star who is working on a business deal with her gym, her mentor sends her to Thailand to lie low and train. Meanwhile, a young girl in Thailand, Mya, realizes that the man who is both benefactor and captor to her is using her ability to travel back and forth from Himmapan, a magical forest filled with legendary animals, for criminal purposes. Mya flees and eventually finds her way to New Jersey, where Jade is discovering that fresh trouble has followed her home. Sullivan deftly evokes the brutality and adrenaline rush of MMA and Muay Thai fights, but she struggles to weave the supernatural elements smoothly into the novel. It’s more than a little jarring when the story first shifts from the contemporary urban realism of Jade’s life to a magical forest. Jade’s strength and tenacity make her an appealing protagonist—and it’s refreshing to see a black Latina lead, given their rarity in fiction for teens—so it’s unfortunate that the chapters told from her first-person perspective are hobbled by clunky dialogue and inconsistencies of tone.

Less than the sum of its many interesting parts. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78108-282-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ravenstone

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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

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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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