Classic good-versus-evil fare.

DARK RISE

From the Dark Rise series , Vol. 1

A long-gone evil power threatens to once again rise and conquer all in its path.

In 1821 London, teenage Will mingles among the crowds on the docks of the Thames. He’s been on the run for months, ever since his mother was killed in their home. Finally, his pursuers catch up with him, and Will is taken in the name of the enigmatic Simon. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Violet wants nothing more than to join Simon’s inner crew. While guarding the hold during an attack on one of Simon’s boats, Violet discovers Will chained below deck. Afterward, the two find themselves under the protection of the Stewards, an ancient order whose sole mission is to prevent the very goal that Simon pursues—and both Will and Violet discover they have deep connections to this fight. What follows is a series of events that are by turns mystical, bewildering, hopeful, and terrifying. Pacat’s writing is atmospheric and full of intriguing, complex characters. However, an overwhelming sense of uncertainty pervades the book, intensified by the rotating points of view as well as the withholding of some characters’ major revelations until very late in the story. These factors leave readers in a state of perpetual unknowing, making it harder to connect with the story. The Stewards hail from all around the world; Will is White, and Violet is biracial, with a White English father and Indian mother.

Classic good-versus-evil fare. (map) (Historical fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294614-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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