From creepy to hilarious to murkily outlandish: a freewheeling science-fiction nightmare/comedy from the inventive author of The Green Futures of Tycho (as well as several non-sf winners). Barney, 16, is summering with his folks in a rented house on the New England coast—a house that once belonged to a tormented, insane 19th-century sea-captain. And staying in the cottage nearby are three glamorous, vaguely European jet-set types: Zena, Manny, and Joe—an attractive but apparently non-sexual menage a trois. Why does this trio take such an intense interest in the house where Barney is staying? (They blatantly traipse in and search the place.) Why do they have in their possession the unpublished memoirs of that crazy sea-captain—who went mad after a visitation from some mysterious, unearthly sailor? Why do Barney's parents see the strangers as idealistic (Dad) and socially important (Mom)—when they're really neither? Those are a few of the questions on Barney's mind as he too finds himself being entranced by Zena, Manny, and Joe: they invite him over for an evening of "Interstellar Pig," a space-fantasy board game that's hysterically complicated and fiendishly "extreme." (Zena explains—"If you happen to be a water-breathing gill man from Thrilb, you can't set foot on Vavoosh without special breathing equipment, or you'll drown in boiling ammonia—not a pretty way to go. Or let's suggest you're an arachnoid nyph from Vavoosh, and you end on Mbridlengile, God forbid. . . .") Soon, however, Barney realizes that the trio is after some hidden treasure, buried by that captain on a nearby islet; he beats them to it, digging up "The Piggy," a trinket with unspecified cosmic powers; he now realizes that Zena et al. are aliens, that the board game is a miniature replica of actual space-life, that the sailor who drove the captain mad was a time-traveling alien. Eventually, then, the game turns very nasty indeed—as the glamorous three reveal their gross alien-monster selves, desperate to get The Piggy from Barney. And the closing pages offer a sort of astral battle: Barney turns into a lichen, learns that The Piggy has nuclear hiccups, tries to save the world from a 100 megaton explosion. . . and ultimately figures out the tricky true identity of The Piggy. Notwithstanding the crunch of confusing sf-puzzle cliches in this semi-tongue-in-cheek finale: steady, challenging amusement for savvy readers.

Pub Date: June 11, 1984

ISBN: 0140375953

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1984

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


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.


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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