From the Royal Rose Chronicles series , Vol. 2

An ultimately satisfying sequel.

The crew of the Royal Rose returns to face higher stakes and even bigger betrayals.

Time is a precious commodity for romantic partners and friends Arn and Emme. With a bounty on their heads, an oathbinding to kill a king, Emme’s grief over the apparent drowning death of her brother, Emric, as well as her increasingly debilitating illness to contend with, the duo must place their trust in the hands of old and new foes—and face the consequences when they are inevitably betrayed. Meanwhile, Emric in fact survived his near-death experience and is now reunited with Arabella the Ruthless, the mother he and his sister thought long dead. But they are trapped on a cursed island, and their only way out is to sacrifice a part of themselves. As the two storylines slowly converge, Emme, Arn, and Emric will face their greatest challenges yet as they share the narration of this follow-up to Oathbound (2022). This entry matches its predecessor’s twists and turns while maintaining the emotional gravitas. The story brims with magic, political intrigue, untold sacrifices, and backstabbing pirates. Despite the uneven pacing between a meandering first half and a fast and furious finale, the tale coalesces before coming to a satisfyingly open ending that leaves its protagonists at crossroads. In a fantasy-diverse world, Emme is dark-skinned, and Arn is pale-skinned.

An ultimately satisfying sequel. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 979-8-88605-026-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Enclave Escape

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 3

Frustratingly slow and lacking in magical wonder.

Despite living her happily-ever-after, Evangeline can’t help but strive to recover her lost memories in this trilogy closer.

Evangeline Fox awakens in the strong arms of Prince Apollo, her apparent husband, who swears to protect her from the evil Lord Jacks, who stole her memories. Unfortunately, Evangeline remembers nothing of her long and complex journey in the Magnificent North or her past romances; only the pain in her heart lets her know something is missing. At Wolf Hall, Evangeline seeks ways to unlock her missing memories, including enlisting the help of a mysterious guard named Archer, even as Apollo’s behavior becomes more and more controlling. The pacing and plot feel stagnant at first, with Evangeline remembering things in flashes and moments of brief feelings, but things finally pick up once her memories return. With the point of view rotating among Evangeline, Apollo, and Jacks, there are few narrative surprises, but it’s intriguing to delve into the minds of an antagonist and a Fate. The story’s inclusion of the legendary Valors and the fantastical fairy-tale setting are unfortunately overshadowed by the love triangle’s dramatic tug-of-war romance. Likewise, the book’s various themes—power, hope, stories, and the nature of humanity—are of interest but handled in an unfocused way. The conclusion, at least, is satisfying, and it hints at future tales set in this world. Evangeline, Jacks, and Archer read white; Apollo has dark hair and olive skin.

Frustratingly slow and lacking in magical wonder. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781250851208

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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