A tepid sequel filled with angst, power grabs, and politics.

THE RISING TIDE

From the Fiery Spiral series , Vol. 2

A teen girl navigates a world that is new to her—and that she is tasked to save.

Sixteen-year-old Ebba is now an official Citizen of Table Island and one of the richest people there, more powerful than she ever could have imagined. Many are eager to take advantage of her naïveté. Her biggest challenges are figuring out how to leverage her wealth and power and make her farm more profitable in order to provide for more people than she anticipated—all while trying to find the four missing amulets that will prevent the coming of the second Calamity. But all Ebba really wants is to be happy and carefree with her first love, Micah, and the friends she grew up with. Plagued by secrets and a new source of insecurity in the form of a perceived rival in love, it’s uncertain whether Ebba will figure out to whom she can turn to help save herself and those she cares about. Set in a fantasy version of South Africa and featuring a multiethnic cast, Brain’s follow-up to The Thousand Steps (2019) is a weaker effort than its predecessor: Ebba is an underdeveloped protagonist whose recklessly impulsive and indecisive behavior may frustrate readers. Clunky transitions made it difficult to invest in the story, resulting in confusing, anticlimactic scenes.

A tepid sequel filled with angst, power grabs, and politics. (maps, family tree) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-946395-49-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Catalyst Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them...

SIEGE AND STORM

From the Grisha Trilogy series , Vol. 2

The Grisha Trilogy turns from bildungsroman to political thriller in its second installment.

Sun Summoner Alina and former Ravkan army tracker Mal, once her childhood friend and now her would-be love, are on the run. All they want is to put Ravka and the megalomaniacal Darkling far behind them. Alas, this is not to be. Captured by the Darkling and forced onto a ship captained by the notorious pirate Sturmhond, they find themselves in pursuit of the second of three magical amplifiers that will make Alina powerful beyond belief—and bind her ever-closer to the ancient, evil Darkling. Sturmhond has an unexpected agenda of his own, though, and turns on the Darkling. Darkling temporarily thwarted, Alina and Mal find themselves back in Ravka’s capital as part of the ailing king’s younger son’s attempt to find his way to the throne. Bardugo’s sophomore effort smooths out many of the rookie wrinkles that marred Shadow and Bone (2012); Alina’s wry voice does not interfere with worldbuilding, instead keeping readers immersed in the plot. Characters are rich and complex, particularly the Peter the Great–like younger prince and Alina herself, beset by competing claims and desires. Is she Mal’s lover? Prince Nikolai’s pawn? Commander of the Grisha Second Army? Saint?

Scheming and action carry readers at a breathless pace to an end that may surprise them and will definitely leave them panting for the series’ conclusion . (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9460-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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