Deliciously immersive and captivating.

THE RACONTEUR'S COMMONPLACE BOOK

From the Greenglass House series

Rain pours down and waters rise as a group of travelers, trapped by the weather in an inn above the river Skidwrack, tell stories.

Twelve guests plus innkeeper, maid, and neighbor Phineas Amalgam (compiler of these tales, according to the title page) make up the company of 15, including one child, Maisie, who is traveling alone. The stories, part morality tales and part facets of a drawing-room mystery, suggest a hidden conversation among the assembly: supplicating, surmising, interpreting, warning. Each guest is matched with an activity: dancing, building with cards, whittling, offering cigars, binding papers into books. Milford’s rich, complex language hints of magic and connection, of interwoven fates and tragedies. The stories celebrate patterns, numbers, marvelous inventions, puzzles, and possibilities. Several stories of peddlers, choices, crossroads, and arcane clockwork devices point to the mystery, and maps, keys, and music figure prominently. Madame Grisaille, Maisie, Petra, and Gregory Sangwin have darker skin while others are assumed White or, in the cases of the beautiful young man Sullivan and the tattooed brothers Negret and Reever, possibly other than human. The inn is full of its own secrets. Its rooms and layout will feel familiar to Greenglass House fans, but it’s set earlier in time, with a steampunk focus on cartography, gearwork, and combustion. At times wryly humorous and at others marvelously unnerving and superbly menacing, this novel delights.

Deliciously immersive and captivating. (Mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-46690-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Next to the exhilarating renditions of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Wanderings of Odysseus, 1996) and Geraldine McCaughrean...

THE ODYSSEY

An anemic retelling of the epic is paired to crabbed, ugly illustrations.

Breaking for occasional glimpses back to Penelope’s plight in Ithaca, Cross relates Odysseus’ travels in a linear narrative that begins with his departure for Troy but skips quickly over the war’s events to get to the sack of the city of the Cicones and events following. Along with being careless about continuity (Odysseus’ men are “mad with thirst” on one page and a few pages later swilling wine that they had all the time, for instance), the reteller’s language is inconsistent in tone. It is sprinkled with the requisite Homeric references to the “wine-dark sea” and Dawn’s rosy fingers but also breaks occasionally into a modern-sounding idiom: “ ‘What’s going on?’ Athene said, looking around at the rowdy suitors.” Packer decorates nearly every spread with either lacy figures silhouetted in black or gold or coarsely brushed paintings depicting crouching, contorted humans, gods and monsters with, generally, chalky skin, snaggled teeth, beer bellies or other disfigurements. The overall effect is grim, mannered and remote.

Next to the exhilarating renditions of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Wanderings of Odysseus, 1996) and Geraldine McCaughrean (Odysseus, 2004), this version makes bland reading, and the contorted art is, at best a poor match. (afterword, maps) (Illustrated classic. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4791-9

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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