Achingly gorgeous and gruesomely fascinating.

ONE DARK THRONE

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 2

Three sisters intensify their deadly struggle for the crown in the second of a horror-tinged fantasy series.

After the spectacular catastrophe of the Quickening (Three Dark Crowns, 2016), the balance of power among the queens has shifted. With the rampage by Arsinoe’s bear, the naturalist candidate has demonstrated unexpected strength, and now elemental Mirabella is no longer treated as the foreordained victor. Meanwhile, poisoner Katharine has returned from her rumored death with a vengeance…and a mission. Alliances shift as the various factions play Temple against Council, and potential suitors become both rivals and pawns—but not even the Goddess can prevent the queens from deciding to take their fates into their own hands. Blake’s already pitch-black tale shades even darker, as the queens’ cruel contest piles up an escalating (and grisly) body count. Yet more excruciating is the curse upon their experience of love, whether with siblings, parents, or friends; in romance, passion, even religious devotion—all relationships are twisted, broken, abandoned, and betrayed. With numerous alternating viewpoints, the exquisitely restrained prose limns a nuanced, subtly realized matriarchal society: all-white, normatively heterosexual (but with exceptions), in which even the most complex male characters function only in relationship to women. The deliberate pacing at the outset serves to re-establish the labyrinthine web of characterization and plot, paying off in a tumultuous climax that piles one shocking twist upon another.

Achingly gorgeous and gruesomely fascinating. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238546-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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