Save this action-packed but derivative adventure for die-hard shonen manga buffs.

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DARKNESS HIDDEN

From the Name of the Blade series , Vol. 2

The Underworld makes another bid for control of Mio’s mystical sword.

In this sequel to The Name of the Blade (2014), Mio and her friends are still celebrating their defeat of the Nekomata with their allies in the Kitsune Kingdom when they are attacked again. This time their enemy’s tools are the Shikome, the “Foul Women,” whose feathers carry a deadly contagion. The gang is ill-prepared to handle the Shikome since they are still coping with the fallout from their first adventure. Mio’s connection with her dangerous katana is growing ever more seductive and powerful, while Rachel is discovering that her abduction by the Nekomata has left her terribly changed. Select third-person passages from other characters’ perspectives are interspersed throughout Mio’s first-person narration, and they emphasize how completely the Shikome plague overwhelms London. The too-tidy ending consequently feels like a cop-out, despite the setup provided for the inevitable third book in the series. Nonetheless, the intense fight scenes and doomed romance will still appeal to many readers, especially if they’re inclined to appreciate Marriott’s obvious manga influences and willing to overlook generally shallow characterization. At least one major plot twist will immediately remind savvy fans of a similar storyline in Tite Kubo’s Bleach.

Save this action-packed but derivative adventure for die-hard shonen manga buffs. (Urban fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6958-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A purple page turner.

CLOCKWORK PRINCE

From the Infernal Devices series , Vol. 2

This sequel to Clockwork Angel (2010) pits gorgeous, attractively broken teens against a menacing evil.

There's betrayal, mayhem and clockwork monstrosities, and the Shadowhunters have only two weeks to discover—oh, who are we kidding? The plot is only surprisingly tasty icing on this cupcake of a melodramatic love triangle. Our heroes are Tessa, who may or may not be a warlock, and the beautiful Shadowhunter warrior boys who are moths to her forbidden flame. It's not always clear why Tessa prefers Will to his beloved (and only) friend Jem, the dying, silver-eyed, biracial sweetheart with the face of an angel. Jem, after all, is gentle and kind, her dearest confidante; Will is unpleasant to everyone around him. But poor, wretched Will—who "would have been pretty if he had not been so tall and so muscular"—has a deep, dark, thoroughly emo secret. His trauma puts all previous romantic difficulties to shame, from the Capulet/Montague feud all the way to Edward Cullen's desire to chomp on Bella Swan. Somehow there's room for an interesting steampunk mystery amid all this angst. The supporting characters (unusually well-developed for a love-triangle romance) include multiple compelling young women who show strength in myriad ways. So what if there are anachronisms, character inconsistencies and weird tonal slips? There's too much overwrought fun to care.

A purple page turner. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7588-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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