A fast-paced series opener.

A FIERY FRIENDSHIP

From the Gabriel Gale's Ages of Oz series , Vol. 1

Dorothy wasn’t the first young girl to take an epic journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

Long before becoming the Good Witch of the South, Glinda Gavaria was a wide-eyed, red-haired white teenager from Quadling Country whose biggest worry was what career she would be forced to accept. Poised to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a seamstress, Glinda quickly learns that life in Oz is nothing like what it seems. Her mother, a seemingly benign seamstress, is actually a powerful sorceress whose revolutionary faction is trying to restore Princess Ozma to the throne, stolen from her while fighting against the four wicked witches who have a stranglehold on the four Oz kingdoms. In Fiedler’s dystopian reimagining of the Oz mythos, the country is suppressed by four wicked witches who forbid the use of magic while subjugating the citizens to the rule of a secret evil sorceress to whom the witches owe their allegiance. While this novel stands alone on its own merits, readers familiar with Baum’s original series will enjoy spending time with famous characters such as the malevolent Mombi and Nick Chopper midway through his transformation into the Tin Woodsman. The author crafts an intricate world filled with excitement and magical creatures, but unfortunately Glinda’s character does not fully crystallize before she is swept up in her adventure.

A fast-paced series opener. (Fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6971-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time.

THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS

From the Heroes of Olympus series , Vol. 5

With just 12 days to go until Gaea awakens fully on Aug. 1 and brings an end to the world as we know it, two groups of demigods struggle to stop her.

Aboard the Argo II, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo race to Athens for the final showdown. Meanwhile, three formerly supporting characters struggle to haul the ancient and massive Athena Parthenos statue from Europe to Camp Half-Blood: son of Hades Nico di Angelo, daughter of Bellona Reyna Ramírez-Arellano (and former praetor at New Rome) and satyr Coach Hedge. Coach Hedge is there mostly for comic relief, but his anxiety for the welfare of his very pregnant wood-nymph wife at Camp Half-Blood, where rogue New Rome augur Octavian has massed his armies to attack on Aug. 1, is touchingly genuine. The story of the demigods headed to Athens focuses on Jason, Piper and Leo and offers what Riordan does best: comedic, action-packed encounters with deities most readers—and sometimes characters—have never heard of. Goddess of victory Nike is particularly funny as she rails against "namby-pamby ideas of friendship and everybody wins participation awards." The story's emotional heft mostly comes from Nico's and Reyna's arduous and heartfelt journeys to self-acceptance. Readers who haven't made a point of revisiting The House of Hades (2013) before starting this may find themselves wondering just why each group's mission is so important, but there's no questioning that the characters think they're vital. And ultimately, any prophecy-driven adventure is at bottom arbitrary anyway. The story's occasional ventures into romance are stilted and awkward, but fortunately they are brief.

The satisfyingly cataclysmic showdowns yield to peaceful resolution at last; here's hoping it holds this time. (Fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4673-5

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2014

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Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise.

WHERE SHE FELL

A teenager battles social anxiety disorder and giant bugs in a subterranean world.

When two bad friends to whom she’s been clinging trick her into venturing into the ominously named Drowners Swamp, Eliza falls into a sinkhole that leads into a seemingly endless cave system. Being an avid fan of caves and geology, Eliza is as enthralled as she is terrified—a mix of emotions that remains unaltered as she encounters a small community of likewise trapped people surviving on a diet of outsized spiders and cave insects. Weeks later she is captured (briefly, thanks to a conveniently timed spider attack) by bioluminescent humanoids. All the while, despite having been in therapy for years, she continually denigrates herself for panic attacks and freezing up around others. Her emotional reactions take up so much of the narrative, in fact, that for all its lurid, occasionally gruesome turns, it’s hard to tell whether character or action drives the story more. In the event, Eliza is surprised to find reserves of inner strength—and a chance at personal transformation—through her ordeal. The first-person narration is punctuated with excerpts and sketches from Eliza’s journal. Except for one character with brown skin, the nonglowing cast defaults to white. Warring themes and elements give this outing a distinct feel of multiple stories yoked together by violence.

Melodramatic but definitively all over the place contentwise. (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-23007-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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