THE HEALER’S KEEP

Four young people divided by geography, class, and philosophy come together in the dream realm to fight the powers of darkness. Maeve, a Sliviite slave of noble descent, runs away from a sinister new master, as Jasper, a clever lowborn entrepreneur, risks his precarious freedom to help her escape. On the opposite side of the sea, Princess Saravelda of Archeld comes incognito to the Healer’s Keep of conquered Bellandra to study her magical gifts, while the outlander Dorjan enrolls, already proficient in his rare talent of walking in dreams. A plot by the disciples of the demonic Shadow King unites these four unlikely allies in a mystical battle to keep the spiritual light from being drained from the world. In this sequel to The Seer and the Sword (2001), Hanley again employs a complicated double narrative, intertwining the tales of her principals while keeping them physically apart. She extends the map of her world with decadent Sliviia and resentful Bellandra, and clarifies the underlying magical structure—although her excessive dependence on sound-alike terminology will force most readers to keep one finger in the glossary. The dramatic action keeps the characters hurtling from crisis to cataclysm, while forcing them to moral compromises that develop character depth. Although the one-dimensional villains, along with a tendency to tell rather than show, make this a more straightforward good-vs.-evil adventure than the subtly ambiguous conflict of Hanley’s debut, the tale works well both as a sequel and on its own. Solid and satisfying. (Fantasy. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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