Often grim, sometimes gory, and occasionally sentimental.

THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK

Able to see the future, a tattooed traveler wonders if she can change it.

It’s been several years since the long-feuding Riki and Aska clans united to fight the “demon” Herja invaders in Young’s debut Sky in the Deep (2018), and the once-bitter enemies have formed unexpected families and friendships. A chief-in-training, 18-year-old Halvard is supposed to lead the newly forged Nādhir in peacetime but instead faces war. Reviled rather than revered by the Svell, Tova—whose tattoos mark her as a Kyrr Truthtongue—predicts the future by reading rune stones and interpreting the Fate Spinners’ plans but cannot remember her own past. (Mis)led by violent Vigdis and their Tala’s (mis)interpretations of Tova’s visions, the ambitious Svell attack the unprepared Nādhir. Soon, battle-untested Halvard races to protect his people while Tova tries to survive the Svell. The forests and fjords suggest a Scandinavian setting, and the weaponry indicates a medieval era. Aside from Tova’s seer skills, the tale skews more history than fantasy; tribal gods are worshipped but not witnessed. Battles are described in precise, cinematic detail, as are their terrible consequences, yet resist glorifying violence. Halvard and Tova's world is described as brutal and beautiful—their personal struggles with identity, fate, and community shine against the minimalistic plot and slowly building tension. Even amid violence, the protagonists recognize the humanity of their enemies (or once-enemies, now-allies), and even villains are explored sympathetically.

Often grim, sometimes gory, and occasionally sentimental. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16848-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A dazzling debut.

BEASTS OF PREY

Opposites come together hoping to capture a menacing creature, only to find a greater purpose.

Ekon Okojo, studious and cautious, aspires to continue his family’s legacy as a Son of the Six, one of the city of Lkossa’s class of anointed warriors. Passionate and impulsive Koffi, who dreams of being free, is an indentured beastkeeper of the Night Zoo—a collection of exotic species owned by the greedy Baaz Mtombé. In the span of a single night, their paths cross and their destinies are forever altered: Ekon is cast out of the warrior class, and Koffi faces a lifetime of servitude. The pair form a tenuous partnership and venture into the Greater Jungle to hunt the Shetani, a powerful, vicious monster, hoping this will solve both their problems. As they are both headstrong and mistrustful, they get off to a rough start, but they become closer with each brush with death. Their quest for vengeance on the Shetani, which is wreaking havoc on Lkossa, turns into something more when they make an unanticipated discovery. Saving their village—and humanity—comes down to Ekon’s warrior instinct and Koffi’s ability to control the magic her people call the splendor. This pan-African story, rife with betrayal and narrated through poetic language that evokes vivid imagery, will ensnare readers, keeping them engaged with its energetic pace. The beautiful blend of mythology, romance, and action ends with a hint at more to come. All characters are Black.

A dazzling debut. (maps, author’s note) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-40568-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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