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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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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