Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT



An astutely written tale that eschews fantasy melodrama to explore social dynamics.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

After her father is executed by a mad queen, a girl uses magic to fight for the oppressed in this YA fantasy debut.

Dravon Galain, a former captain in the queen’s military, is about to be executed. He kneels before a crowd in the castle courtyard, which is surrounded by Dawn’s Gate, the capital of the High Desert kingdom. His wife, Audrie, and their daughters, 10-year-old Tris and 14-year-old Maggie, look on in horror, sure that Dravon isn’t the turncoat the queen believes he is. After the killing by firing squad, Dravon’s corpse is left in the courtyard. Maggie sneaks in and takes his military jacket, vowing to clear his name. She fastens the single button left on the coat and “vanishes without a sound.” Though magic is mostly gone from the world, Maggie is whisked into a dark, strange realm. She eventually wakes in an alley by the castle and receives help from Elly Babblewatts, a teenage tinkerer. Maggie soon learns that she and her family must hide from angry mobs and the queen’s hunters, called Shadow Lurkers. Thanks to the teleporting coat, she gains a reputation as a powerful witch. Eventually, she unites with oppressed people in the kingdom, including Salavan of the Lost Sabers tribe. Will they be enough to end the queen’s “empire of chains”? Miller’s series opener brings readers into a world rife with social ills, including “indentured child workers” and a queen who enslaves those critical of her governance. Maggie gradually learns more about her magical coat, traveling frequently to the eerily beautiful “Sorrow's Deep,” which provides one of the principal narrative thrills (“She finds that her vertical momentum does not carry to the next world, but horizontal momentum is maintained”). At times, the large cast and the detailed society of the author’s worldbuilding crowd out his protagonist. The reward for readers is an intriguing, fragile allied force—including the priestess Mos Marry, who wants magic eliminated—that may prove troublesome for Maggie even if the contingent topples the queen. The final scene offers a shocking moment that’s hopefully addressed in the sequel.

An astutely written tale that eschews fantasy melodrama to explore social dynamics.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 979-8503395259

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


A dark and gripping feminist tale.

A young woman faces her past to discover the truth about one of her nation’s heroes.

When Effy Sayre, the only female architecture student at her university in Llyr, wins the competition to design Hiraeth Manor for the estate of the late Emrys Myrddin, national literary figure and her favorite author, it is the perfect opportunity to leave behind a recent trauma. She arrives to find the cliffside estate is literally crumbling into the ocean, and she quickly realizes things may not be as they seem. Preston, an arrogant literature student, is also working at the estate, gathering materials for the university’s archives and questioning everything Effy knows about Myrddin. When Preston offers to include her name on his thesis—which may allow her to pursue the dream of studying literature that was frustrated by the university’s refusal to admit women literature students—Effy agrees to help him. He’s on a quest for answers about the source of Myrddin’s most famous work, Angharad, a romance about a cruel Fairy King who marries a mortal woman. Meanwhile, Myrddin’s son has secrets of his own. Preston and Effy start to suspect that Myrddin’s fairy tales may hold more truth than they realize. The Welsh-inspired setting is impressively atmospheric, and while some of the mythology ends up feeling extraneous, the worldbuilding is immersive and thoughtfully addresses misogyny and its effects on how history is written. Main characters are cued white.

A dark and gripping feminist tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780063211506

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

Close Quickview