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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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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