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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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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