FINGERS

Sam's mother concocts an impossible scheme to rescue younger son Humphrey's musical career, and the unlikely plan seems to work in this loony, unstrained narrative. Humphrey wakes up believing he has become the medium for deceased gypsy pianist/composer Laszlo Magyar; his family describes his strange behavior the night before and a new score is in his hand. What's more, even music specialists in the audience of his otherwise lackluster concert acknowledge both the Magyar style in the piece and Humphrey's higher artistry in the playing. Suddenly, he's in demand, playing Milan, Geneva, Vienna. In truth, though, his family is tricking him: Sam actually writes the compositions and their mother drugs Humphrey with Seconal so he won't remember the night before. But then weird things happen that also happened to Magyar, and a strange old man appears at the end of each performance, correcting the composition. Sleator has his own choice parody here as Sam takes his inspiration from hotel radiator noises and reads in a biography of Magyar hilarious gypsy anecdotes. But their situation rests on harsher realities and includes some sad truths of family life. Jealousy and other feelings force Sam to spill the beans to increasingly uppity Humphrey—who really suffers from the news—yet that stage mother still wants the show to go on. Sam tells it all with such brisk good humor that though the parents are manipulative the story is not. Even readers unfamiliar with music terms and room service menus can follow the notes and savor the gypsy in these souls.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1983

ISBN: 0765353490

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983

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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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