A fiercely feminist #MeToo fairy tale.

EVER CURSED

Five years ago, a powerful witch named Reagan cast a Spell of Without on the Queen of Ever and her five daughters, each of whom succumbs on her 13th birthday.

Jane, the eldest at 17, can’t eat; Nora can’t love; Alice can’t sleep; Grace can’t remember; Eden will soon have no hope; and the queen lies in stasis in a glass box. After Reagan returns from her banishment, she comes to terms with the consequences of her actions, borne of rage, which could destroy the complex balance between witches and royals. She has four days to Undo the spell before her 18th birthday, when it becomes permanent (and for Jane and Alice, deadly). Jane crosses the castle’s moat for the first time (royals must maintain a Royal Distance from their subjects) to gather the objects needed to break the spell, and after learning Reagan’s reasons, Jane must reconsider everything she thought she knew about witches, the people of Ever, and her beloved father. Quirky details enliven Haydu’s magic-infused world, and themes like sexual assault and rampant misogyny are deftly explored while allowing for hope and healing. There are a few surprises, but Haydu doesn’t rely on gimmicky twists: This one is all about compassion, female solidarity, fighting for change, and smashing the patriarchy. Jane’s family and Reagan are white, Alice is trans, Grace is lesbian, and royals, witches, and ordinary citizens are diverse in skin tone.

A fiercely feminist #MeToo fairy tale. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3703-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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

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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

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