A world-expanding improvement on its predecessor.

CAST IN SECRETS AND SHADOW

From the Loresmith series , Vol. 2

In the sequel to Forged in Fire and Stars (2020), Loresmith Ara continues to seek out the gods so she can access the Loresmith Forge.

Betrayed by Prince Eamon, Ara and her companions push onward. The hunt for the gods’ sacred sites takes them across new landscapes—from tropical jungle to farmland to treacherous fens—and illustrates the urgency of stopping the Vokkans from devouring the world. Meanwhile, Liran and Eamon offer their views of ArchWizard Zenar through stories of treason, regrets, and atrocities. The at-times overwritten and purple prose, combined with a lengthy scavenger-hunt storyline, promises a long-haul series. In between bursts of action as the characters face their trials, the quest serves as a backdrop for psychological storylines. Some threads, like those of characters who are grappling with the complicated feelings of being betrayed by a loved one, are more successful than others, such as the interruption of Ara’s increasingly steamy romance. Romance is a heavy focus, and there is a secondary romance between two women. Despite the emphasis on weapons, finding alternatives to violence when possible is a refreshing theme. Racial diversity is linked to fantasy-world geographical areas and doesn’t seem to have real-world analogs; characters have a range of skin tones from light to dark.

A world-expanding improvement on its predecessor. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-16423-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.

THE WICKED KING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 2

A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).

Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31035-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more