WINTERKEEP

From the Graceling Realm series , Vol. 4

Return to the Graceling Realm in this follow-up to Bitterblue (2012).

Five years ago, Queen Bitterblue of Monsea was picking up the pieces of her kingdom after the horrific rule of her disturbed father, King Leck. Now, contact has been made with a new continent, Torla. The closest country, Winterkeep, is a democratic republic with eco-friendly airships and telepathic animals. The story shifts among five third-person perspectives: Bitterblue; Giddon, who appeared in Graceling (2008); Lovisa, the teen daughter of the Keepish president; a telepathic fox named Adventure; and a mysterious 13-tentacled undersea creature. En route to Winterkeep, Bitterblue is assumed to have drowned but she’s actually been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Lovisa (who’s skilled at spying) attempts to uncover her parents’ secrets while processing new revelations about them—and herself. Cashore excels at finely drawn characters and realistic portrayals of toxic parents’ effect on their children. While the focus on the themes of sex and environmentalism risks veering too heavily into didacticism, this worthy addition to the series is sure to excite fans who, after eight years, may not have dared hope for another installment. This is both a timely primer on the dangers of a politically divided society and a good story. Keepish people are brown-skinned; half-Lienid Bitterblue is light-brown skinned; and Monseans are fair-skinned.

A keeper. (map, note to the reader, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4150-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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