A satisfying and socially relevant story about acceptance and sacrifice.

UNWRITTEN

THE ZWEESHEN CHRONICLES #1

A 16-year-old embraces the very real magic of books in this YA fantasy novel.

Beatrix Alba lost her mother years ago, her father, Martin, neglects her, and her White peers mock her Hispanic heritage. She also has a hidden, magical heritage that she doesn’t fully understand. Then, one day, she gets a visit from a visitor from Zweeshen, a mystical realm in which literary characters are real and words hold unimaginable power. In Zweeshen, Beatrix is a powerful magic user and an Unwritten, defined as a character whose destiny is yet unpenned. She’s said to be separated from the story in which she belongs—her “biblioworld” called Eisid Naraid—and because of this, her life force depletes with every ounce of magic she uses. After the mysterious visitor, known as the Librarian, offers to return her to her biblioworld and reunite her with her deceased mother, she becomes enmeshed in a plot to combat a murderous Charmancer who feeds on the burning of books. She eventually finds strength in herself and newfound friends and uncovers the key to victory against her adversary, but the choices she makes may cost her everything. Novo’s well-crafted story will delight and engage readers. As a whimsical fantasy featuring riddles, dragons, and even pastries flavored with memories, the work can be enjoyed simply as an allegorical coming-of-age tale. However, readers will also recognize its serious exploration of intolerance, including ethnic discrimination and rejection of nonconformity. That said, this is often a lighthearted tale, and Novo plays with literary conventions in offbeat ways with elements such as genre guilds, which promote social order among characters, and living Prologs who answer nearly any question that a character may ask. Some readers may feel teased by the cliffhanger ending, but they’ll look forward to future installments in this planned series.

A satisfying and socially relevant story about acceptance and sacrifice.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-947796-65-2

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Intense Publications

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.

RULE OF WOLVES

From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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