A satisfying conclusion to a rich world of story.

THE STORY KING

From the Sunlit Lands series , Vol. 3

The Sunlit Lands are unraveling.

A year has passed since the events of The Heartwood Crown (2019), and readers find the surviving characters scattered and still looking for answers. Madeline’s sacrifice broke all magic and bonds, the aftereffects of which the Elenil, Scim, and humans work to reconcile. Some attempt to rebuild, some fight for a new way, while others look for scapegoats. Jason Wu, Darius Walker, Shula Bishara, and Gilenyia will uncover the mysteries behind the creation of the Sunlit Lands and the terrible secret of the Elenil in order to overcome the pain of their personal tragedies. The setting of the story is heavily influenced by recent events and social debates: It weaves in themes and discussion around false truths and those who believe them without seeking further, the systemic nature of White privilege, extremism (the Vain Boys are a group akin to the Proud Boys), and the dangers of being Black in contemporary America—and even touches upon the problem of Asian Americans being treated like a monolith. Christian references are similarly a part of the fabric of the story. Though at times heavy-handed in expressing political views, the novel highlights many important historical and current issues within a fantasy-world context. This trilogy closer will best be appreciated by readers familiar with the earlier volumes.

A satisfying conclusion to a rich world of story. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4964-4785-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Wander

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

A derivative mess.

ASHFALL LEGACY

A half alien teenager sets out for the stars in search of his missing dad.

In what rapidly devolves into a jumble of well-worn science-fiction tropes and typecast settings glued together by adolescent behavior and muddy thinking, the story follows 16-year-old Sydney, who has been on the lam with his gun-toting default-White human mom for 10 years. Syd meets and agrees to join his alien uncle on a training voyage to planet Denza, where he can take classes at the local star fleet academy and find his father, who vanished on an exploratory voyage years before. Syd discovers that all humans become super strong and super tough when they leave Earth—but die when they return. Might his father have come upon a cure hidden among the relics of a…wait for it…mysterious race of vanished galactic overlords? In his typically unsubtle way, the pseudonymous Lore chucks discrimination into the mix too—being a “mutt,” as one hostile shipmate put it, Syd gets a decidedly mixed reception from the specist Denzans, and a fellow hybrid angrily informs him that she identifies as human. Before arbitrarily cutting off midway through, the climax collapses into a glutinous mass of revelations including the fate of Syd’s father and the nature of the aforementioned overlords. Oh, and there are space monsters and a magic ring.

A derivative mess. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284536-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Bound to be popular.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more