An engaging space adventure with relatable characters.

DAWN OF THE WATCHERS

Taylor’s YA/New Adult SF adventure novel follows a teenager tasked with protecting the savior of humanity.

Jinx is a Protector who’s guarding Laris, whose amazing abilities are needed to save organic life from extinction; another character describes her as “an opening that universal energy pours through.” They’re on a spaceship headed to the Milky Way, and specifically the planet Earth, the crew’s long-abandoned home. This has Jinx on edge, as the Galactic Overseers restricted travel to that galaxy after an atomic war, so there’s no telling what’s waiting for them. Jinx and Laris are joined on their mission by nerdy scientists Jacob and Claire, who keep the ship and technology running; Hadu, who’s tasked with preparing Jinx for her work as a Protector; and DeeDee, an artificial intelligence that’s programmed to watch Jinx’s back. Jinx will do anything to protect Laris—even if it means adventuring with a ragtag group to a whole new world. However, it soon becomes clear that this Earth is nothing like the one inhabited by humanity’s ancestors. Soon, the crew discover that a couple of mercenaries have targeted Laris with tech, hired by an unknown client for a mysterious mission—and it appears that Sartillias, a dangerous enemy they’ve encountered before, is once again involved. Taylor pens an adventure story that will delight adult and young adult readers alike. It’s a direct sequel to Rise of the Protector (2019), and the author does a solid job of bringing readers who are unfamiliar with the first book into the story, without making it feel redundant for others. Many of the characters here are easy to like, thanks to DeeDee’s insatiable ice cream craving (and the mess it creates), Jinx’s absolute adoration of Laris, and the banter that Jinx and Jacob share: “You’re absolutely sure this one is safe?” Jinx says of a black hole. “Define ‘safe,’ ” Jacob responds. The author also shows skill at making impossible sequences, such as a wormhole travel scene, seem real, which makes for an entertaining read.

An engaging space adventure with relatable characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 979-8986053714

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A second volume that sets the scene for more to come.

DEFEND THE DAWN

From the Defy the Night series , Vol. 2

As the Moonflower supply in Kandala dwindles, a ship arrives with a trade opportunity in this follow-up to Defy the Night (2021).

Moonflowers are critical for an elixir that cures the fever sickness. Prior to his assassination, King Lucas of Kandala sent a spy to neighboring Ostriary, whose connection with Kandala had been severed. Now Capt. Rian Blakemore arrives in Kandala claiming to be the spy’s son, offering Moonflowers in exchange for steel, and inviting a delegation to meet with the Ostrian king. Tessa Cade, outlaw-turned–royal apothecary, is eager to go. Since the invasion of the Royal Sector, Kandala’s King Harristan has attempted to negotiate better distribution of Moonflower petals to the poorer districts, but tension among the rebels, consuls, and royals has stalled progress. An alternate supply of Moonflowers would buy time for Tessa to find another cure. Her hope is countered by the cynicism of the King’s Justice, Prince Corrick. Nevertheless, he boards Blakemore’s ship along with Tessa and rebel leader Lochlan Cresswell. As Tessa and Corrick try to discern hidden motives and a possible trap, they reexamine their relationship, which gets tested by the mysterious captain. Chapters told in alternating perspectives draw out the plot at a measured pace, ending with a series of shocking revelations. The structure results in introspective accounts following different concurrent events, slowing the story’s forward momentum. Characters have varying skin tones.

A second volume that sets the scene for more to come. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-1007-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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