A tepid, formulaic fantasy that fails to sufficiently interrogate the issues it raises.

THE GREAT PURSUIT

Following duology opener The Great Hunt (2016), Princess Aerity and her people face another brutal threat in the form of angry Lashed citizens, who are tired of being punished for their ability to do magic.

The royal family of Lochlanach is shocked and dismayed when another bloodthirsty beast appears after the first one was killed with so much effort. Before any plans can be made to defeat the monsters and their creator, Princess Aerity flees for one last goodbye to the man she loves but cannot marry. However, the rebellion is larger and more complicated than she ever suspected, and soon she finds herself face to face with the true enemy—Rozaria Rocato. Rozaria is working with Prince Vito of Kalor, who wants the magic-working Lashed to rise up and defeat all who have oppressed them. The suppression of the Lashed by others provides a template for an exploration of the uses and drawbacks of civil unrest, though the story stays very much on the surface of the topic. Instead, a slightly predictable plot and characterizations keep the book at a superficial simmer. Higgins’ world is a mishmash of tropes, the faux British Lochlans juxtaposed against the exotic Zandalee and Kalorians, who are dark-skinned “tribesmen.” Both maidens and those who have chosen to eschew maidenhood are both chivalrously protected and bravely participatory in the battle.

A tepid, formulaic fantasy that fails to sufficiently interrogate the issues it raises. (Fantasy.13-18)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238136-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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