Absolutely blonkers; giddiness-inducing for the most open-minded of readers.

A PECULIAR PERIL

From the Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead series , Vol. 1

Family secrets give way to a madcap marathon portal fantasy.

Tasked with cataloging his dead hoarder grandfather’s mansion’s contents, 16-year-old recently orphaned naturalist Jonathan also puzzles over his grandfather’s nonsensical instructions. Strange and dangerous things lead Jonathan to conclude his grandfather was murdered—a conclusion reached too late to prevent school friends Rack and his good-natured, athletic sister, Danny, from arriving to help. Meanwhile, on parallel world Aurora, Aleister Crowley, aided by his grotesque familiar, Wretch, and the head of Napoleon, is the Lord Emperor of the Franco-Germanic Empire, seeking to conquer Prague (with mecha-elephants) and England (by attacking the wall on the land bridge—a wall whose defenders wear cod-head–shaped codpieces—with a doomsday earthworm-dreadnought devised by Jules Verne for use against H.G. Wells). As the mansion has doors between worlds, the Earth gang (with Jonathan theorized to be special) decides to help the Order of the Third Door against Crowley to prevent the war’s reaching Earth. Aurora’s an enthusiastic hodgepodge of antique fantasy elements (talking animals), touches of cosmic horror, clever wordplay, genre deconstruction, and butt humor, all tied together with a just-go-with-it fever-dream logic. Constant viewpoint jumps (including a MacGuffin-turned-narrator) slow down the already meandering, tangent-heavy, complicated (spies spying spies) story’s pace but allow for savoring weirdness until the cliffhanger ending. Jonathan and Danny seem to be White; Jonathan is asexual and Danny is bisexual. Danish Korean adoptee Rack uses a prosthetic leg.

Absolutely blonkers; giddiness-inducing for the most open-minded of readers. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30886-5

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.

RULE OF WOLVES

From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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