An ambitious entry in a series that continues to improve.

INFINITY REAPER

From the Infinity Cycle series , Vol. 2

The war between the Spell Walkers and Blood Casters rages on.

This fast-paced sequel to Infinity Son (2020) starts with Brighton drinking Reaper’s Blood, an elixir that might give him the powers he so desperately craves. Meanwhile, his brother, Emil, is in critical condition after trying to prevent the elixir from being made. As the brothers regroup and recover, celestial-hating Sen. Iron coerces his son, Ness, to use his shape-shifting abilities to impersonate and further stigmatize gleamcrafters. Maribelle tracks down her lover’s murderer to exact revenge. Despite their different methods, the Spell Walkers each share the goal of finding a way to defeat the Blood Casters and right the world. But as Brighton’s new powers manifest, his views on those heroics start to change. Can they still save the world? First-person narration jumps between the same four characters from the first book but delves even deeper into their individual stories. Silvera also adds the sizzle of sexual tension as the brothers each navigate feelings for their respective crushes—and for Emil, a new boy further complicates things. Aided by a necessary glossary, the ambitious worldbuilding expands to include even more magical parallels to real-life America (e.g., wand violence, enforcer reform, and alternative facts). The cast continues to be mostly brown-skinned and/or queer. Another cliffhanger ending adds to the anticipation for the final book in the planned trilogy.

An ambitious entry in a series that continues to improve. (dramatis personae) (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-288231-8

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

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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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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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