A casual yet crafty interplay of fantasy and sibling psychology: disturbing, funny, and occasionally even touching.

SINGULARITY

More wonderful weirdness from the author of Interstellar Pig and The Green Futures of Tycho.

Harry and Barry Krasner of Boston are 16-year-old identical twins; Barry is domineering, boastful, and hates being a twin; Harry (the narrator) is timid, thoughtful, and—despite everything—devoted to Barry. So, when the Krasner family inherits an old house in Illinois from a virtually forgotten great-uncle, Barry immediately comes up with a plan for the twins to spend two weeks checking out this new acquisition. Harry, as usual, passively agrees. And soon the boys are prowling around Uncle Ambrose's creepy manse, viewing his enormous collection of odd animal-skeletons ("Hey! This thing has six legs!"), and finding the key to the strange "playhouse" out in the back yard. Could any of these discoveries be connected to nasty local rumors—involving disappearing animals—about the late Uncle Ambrose? They could indeed—especially when freshly shaved Barry gets locked in the playhouse for a few seconds. . . and emerges with five-o'clock shadow, sure that a whole day has passed!! The explanation? "Time goes faster in there," of course. (There's further, sad proof when Harry's dog Fred, accidentally locked in the playhouse for a few minutes, dies of starvation.) But why does time go faster inside the playhouse? Because the star-rock beneath the playhouse is a "singularity" (a.k.a. black hole); furthermore, on the other side of the rock is another universe; and, from time to time, matter from this other universe (bizarre creatures, mundane garbage) is thrown into our universe—via the plumbing pipes in the playhouse. Wisely, however, Sleator doesn't allow whimsical sci-fi speculation to overwhelm this shrewdly balanced novel. Instead, the focus remains on the Barry/Harry tension—which escalates when Barry threatens to lock himself in the playhouse long enough to age a year (and escape twinship)! But, asserting himself for once, it's Harry who secretly, as Barry sleeps, undertakes the playhouse ordeal: while only a couple of hours pass outside, Harry survives the boredom and panic of a year inside the play-house—watching the approach of a scary creature from that other universe, reading Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, and The Way of All Flesh. ("There was a certain satisfaction in the knowledge that I was doing a significant amount of the rest of life's homework.")

A casual yet crafty interplay of fantasy and sibling psychology: disturbing, funny, and occasionally even touching.

Pub Date: April 1, 1985

ISBN: 0140375988

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1985

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series.

SHADOW AND BONE

From the Grisha Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In a Russian-inflected fantasy world, an orphan comes into immense power and, with it, danger.

When the Grisha came to test inseparable friends Alina and Malyen, neither showed any aptitude for the Small Science. Years later, they are in the army, Alina in the cartographer corps and Mal a tracker. They are escorting the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in the land, across the terrifying Shadow Fold that divides Ravka’s heart from its coast. An attack by the terrifying volcra brings forth a power Alina never knew she had: She is a Sun Summoner. The charismatic, quartz-eyed Darkling takes her to the palace to learn the art of the Etherealki, and Mal is left behind. Bardugo allows the details of Grisha magic to unfold with limited exposition, using Alina's ignorance for readers' benefit. While Alina's training borrows familiar tropes (outlander combat teacher, wizened-crone magic instructor, friends and enemies among her peers), readers will nevertheless cheer her progress. But the worldbuilding is continually undercut by clunky colloquialisms; such phrases as "Well, that's completely creepy" and "It's okay" yank readers out of this carefully constructed, mostly preindustrial world. Readers may also be troubled by the sexualization of power found in its pages.

The plotting is powerful enough to carry most readers past flaws and into the next book in the series. (classification of Grisha types, map [not seen]) (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9459-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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