Tragic, devastating, horrifying, enthralling.

TWO DARK REIGNS

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 3

In the third entry in a pitch-black fantasy quartet, everyone acts with the best of intentions—and everything goes terribly, terribly wrong.

Katharine, newly Queen Crowned of Fennbirn, just wants a peaceful, prosperous reign, but the people fear her, the vengeful spirits strengthening her urge ever more dreadful deeds, and even the eldritch mist protecting the island has seemingly turned against its inhabitants. Jules Milone wishes only to learn more about her cursed legion gift, but the warriors and oracles insist she lead their rebellion, defying the prophecy that she may be the island’s doom. Mirabella and Arsinoe try desperately to conform to the patriarchal culture of their mainland refuge, but visions of a centuries-gone Blue Queen demand their return. The barrage of intrigue, betrayals, spells, portents, and grisly violence unleashed in this volume almost overwhelms, as multiple viewpoints follow several intertwining plotlines, both epic and intimate, across present and past. Blake’s (One Dark Throne, 2017, etc.) elegant, understated prose unfolds new facets of the island’s culture, revealing sinister truths behind pious legends. The richly-drawn characters default to white and mostly heterosexual (although at least one culture celebrates bisexuality). Some take comfort in male lovers living or dead, but the narrative is mostly driven by the complicated relationships between strong, vibrant women: mothers and daughters, friends and rivals, Goddess and priestess, and—above all—sisters.

Tragic, devastating, horrifying, enthralling. (cast of characters, map) (Fantasy. 14 -adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-268614-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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