A dystopian fantasy with all the expected elements of the genre.

THE THOUSAND STEPS

From the Fiery Spiral series , Vol. 1

A story of love and sacrifice mixed with politics and magic in an alternate Cape Town.

Sixteen-year-old orphan Ebba has only known life in an underground bunker where she and other young people work 12 hours a day. This is life after the Calamity that caused the deaths of all except those in the bunker. Or so Ebba believes. One fateful day she not only escapes death, but is brought aboveground to Table Island, the world she thought was uninhabitable. Ebba learns she is the wealthiest of the Citizens—those chosen by the god Prospiroh, spared from misfortune and blessed with abundance. A caretaker on the vast farm she now owns tells her of her lineage as a descendant of the goddess Theia and her destiny: to save the world from a second Calamity. Ebba struggles to come to terms with her new reality. Thrust from slavery into luxury, she barely has time to adjust before her world is rocked even more and she has to make hard decisions and be braver than she thinks she can be, even with the help of her closest friends, ancestors, and some surprising allies. Mixing mythology with real historical atrocities like apartheid, this is a solid tale featuring diverse characters who reflect the real-world communities of South Africa; race and ethnicity are, however, treated as incidental to the narrative.

A dystopian fantasy with all the expected elements of the genre. (map) (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946395-24-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Catalyst Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

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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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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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