Sharp and snow-dusted yet strangely cozy; a comforting winter’s read.

THE WIDE STARLIGHT

A teen goes north to reclaim a lost loved one in this modern fairy tale.

Eline Davis lost her mother, Silje Lund, a decade ago, not to illness or abandonment, but to the Northern Lights, which stole Silje but left 6-year-old Eline behind on the ice. After Silje’s disappearance, Eline and her father left Svalbard, Norway, for the States, and Eline’s seemingly enchanted childhood succumbed to mundane reality. But life in Cape Cod is upended when she learns that her best friend, Iris, has secretly been applying to out-of-town schools and that the Northern Lights will be seen in Massachusetts, farther south than ever before. Eline’s modern-day quest in search of her mother alternates with her beloved stories and those of her mother and grandmother, all framed as fairy tales, until the boundaries blur. On her journey, Eline must contend with problems both practical—frostbite, polar bears, angst—and fantastic—storybook characters springing to life, a sentient wind—while also reconciling fond memories with the reality of Silje’s erratic behavior, flaws, and failures. Indebted to Norwegian folktales, Eline’s adventure follows a classic arc while also benefitting from modern technology. Raised and addressed to some degree is the magic-vs.–mental illness trope. Half-American/half-Norwegian Eline reads as White. With her vividly rendered settings, emotionally complex characters, and sweet and sinister magical realism, Lesperance may be a promising successor to Alice Hoffman.

Sharp and snow-dusted yet strangely cozy; a comforting winter’s read. (author's note) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11622-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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