Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans.

THE VICIOUS DEEP

From the Vicious Deep series , Vol. 1

Another mermaid book joins the flood.

Tristan Hart “was born at sea.” It’s no wonder he is the star of the high-school swim team and a Coney Island lifeguard. But while Tristan always prided himself on swimming like a fish, he never imagined he’d become one. When a rescue attempt in stormy seas nearly robs Tristan of his life and leaves him with some unexpected physical side effects, the truth shakes Tristan to the very last scale of his newly sprouted fishtail. Son of a human father and a mother whose distress over their son’s transformation never feels truly genuine, Tristan discovers he is heir to the Sea King’s throne and must compete in a tournament to lay claim to the kingdom. With his best friend and secret love, Layla, and his mer-guardians, Kurt and Thalia, by his side, Tristan battles creatures from the deep on land, at sea and in his own mind. Herein lies one of the novel's greatest problems. Despite the alluring title, the creatures in this story, with the exception of one particularly scary excommunicated mermaid, simply aren’t that vicious. In fact, their descriptions—like the small, round half-man, half–blow fish—seem more suited to one of the original Star Wars movies than contemporary teen fiction.

Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6510-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Provocative fare for students of the themes and tropes of literary and traditional folk literature.

FEATHERS, PAWS, FINS, AND CLAWS

FAIRY-TALE BEASTS

Ten “vintage tales” chosen to challenge assumptions that fairy stories offer cut-and-dried values and life lessons for, specifically, children.

Reaching for an audience that is, as the editors put it, “beyond childhood,” the collection is introduced with an eye-opening analysis of “Little Red Riding Hood” (Perrault’s actual wording, it seems, hints that Little Red and the wolf weren’t exactly strangers) as part of a broad claim that fairy tales are often transgressive. The ensuing mix of original and traditional stories, all either written or first translated into English in the Victorian era, includes tales both familiar and un-. There’s “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon”; “Ballad of the Bird-Bride,” which is a selkie variant featuring a sea gull; a “Puss-in-Boots” antecedent (“Costantino Fortunato”) from 16th-century Italy; and a Punjabi tale about a rat who almost parlays a bit of found root into marriage to a princess. For younger readers, the highlight is likely to be Joseph Jacobs' rendition of “The Story of the Three Bears,” as the home invader is not Goldilocks but a foulmouthed old homeless woman. But the selections are held up more for analysis than enjoyment, even Madame d’Aulnoy’s “Babiole,” which makes for labored reading despite an eponymous princess who spends most of the tale as a monkey. Kusaite’s visual jumbles of patterns and textures are as mannered as the 19th-century prose.

Provocative fare for students of the themes and tropes of literary and traditional folk literature. (source notes) (Fairy tales. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8143-4069-1

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Wayne State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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THE RING OF SOLOMON

From the Bartimaeus series , Vol. 4

The entertainingly cocky djinni scraps his way through a 950 BCE escapade mostly unrelated to his series (The Bartimaeus Trilogy) but in that same metaphysical world. Any competent magician can summon Bartimaeus to Earth and enslave him, though none can suppress his amusingly snide commentary (complete with witty footnotes). Assigned to chase bandits outside a corrupt Jerusalem, he meets Asmira, a young woman whose third-person-limited narrative sections are told in a reserved, pragmatic voice. She treks to Jerusalem on a mission to assassinate King Solomon, who threatens her country of Sheba. Magical detonations enhance the tension as Asmira creeps closer to King Solomon and his world-controlling ring. Semi-success in her quest raises new questions, expanding her worldview and making her think in new ways. Despite Asmira’s likability, copious action and suspense, the text’s sharp elegance and Bartimaeus’s funny panache under duress, the prose moves slowly throughout, partly due to over-description. Best for worshippers of popular Bartimaeus and fantasy readers who don’t require a quick pace. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2372-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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