A strong and worthy successor that showcases the skill of a master worldbuilder.

REDEMPTOR

From the Raybearer series , Vol. 2

Tarisai of Swana learns to navigate life in power while under constant pressure from friends and foes.

Now 17, Tarisai adapts to being the new Empress and High Lady Judge of Aritsar. She hopes to live up to her honorific, Idajo, or the Just, and address economic inequalities that oppress anyone without noble blood. But she must also prepare to journey through the Underworld after offering herself as the last Redemptor child sacrifice to the abiku—demons—who dwell there. The abiku promise to forfeit future sacrifices if Tarisai makes it out alive, but she didn’t factor in the weight and trauma of being haunted by undead children holding her accountable for their justice. The book, infused with West African influences, blossoms at a perfect pace as readers travel around the continental empire both physically with Tarisai and through the memories of others, learning more about the lush world Ifueko has crafted. New magical beings are awakened and their connections to nature and the survival of the people around Aritsar are explored with an emphasis on contemporary social issues of eco-justice seamlessly threaded through. This book is more reflective than the first volume, supporting insightful glimpses into the maturation of not just Tarisai, but other characters too; still, the action never lags, with the story remaining bright and exciting.

A strong and worthy successor that showcases the skill of a master worldbuilder. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3984-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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