A historical fiction/fantasy mashup with crossover appeal.

THE KINGDOM OF BACK

The year clavier prodigy Maria Anna Mozart’s younger brother, Wolfgang Amadeus, begins to show an even more astonishing musical genius, a mysterious boy from a fairy land enters her life.

Lu (Rebel, 2019, etc.) interweaves 18th-century historical figures and events with a fantasy land called the Kingdom of Back, an alternate world actually invented and named by the real Mozart siblings, Nannerl and Woferl, where trees grow upside down and a prince and princess are missing. Hyacinth, a beautiful, shadowy boy, pale and blue-eyed, is the go-between who offers Nannerl figurative immortality in return for her help. As Nannerl craves her father’s attention and wishes to escape the inevitable anonymity that womanhood promises, she agrees. Over the next decade, she straddles both worlds, performing, composing, and navigating relationships with Woferl and her domineering father in one while battling supernatural foes for Hyacinth in the other. But as she grows, so do her doubts. Is Hyacinth the benevolent fairy he claims to be? Is success at her brother’s expense really what she wanted? Lu’s melding of history and fantasy is a clever idea, but the Kingdom of Back and its denizens feel like stock figures compiled from generic fairy tales in contrast to her portrayal of the real Mozarts’ lives, which is much more remarkable, emotional, and compelling than the fantasy land.

A historical fiction/fantasy mashup with crossover appeal. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3901-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener.

DEFY THE NIGHT

The only effective treatment for the lethal fever that plagues Kandala is a potion derived from the rare Moonflower.

Medicine is allocated to each sector of the kingdom by the decree of King Harristan, but the supply is limited. Thieves, smugglers, and black marketeers are subject to punishment and execution overseen by the cruel Prince Corrick in his role as the King’s Justice. Like many in Kandala, Tessa Cade loathes the king and his younger brother for ignoring the plight of those who cannot afford treatment. With the help of her close friend Weston, the 18-year-old apothecary’s assistant steals Moonflower petals from the wealthy and makes potions to distribute among the poor. Soon after Wes is caught by the night patrol, Tessa is presented with an opportunity to sneak into the palace. She enters with the intention of taking a sample of the palace’s potent Moonflower elixir only to be captured and brought before Prince Corrick, who, Tessa discovers, might not be as heartless as she originally believed. The slow-burn romance—between an idealist with straightforward moral beliefs and a pragmatist trapped by duty—will keep the pages turning, as will the scheming of the king’s consuls and the rebellion brewing in the background. Tessa and Corrick are cued White; other characters’ skin colors range from beige to deep brown.

The personal and the political intertwine in this engaging series opener. (map, cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0466-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more