This story (and sequels) will undoubtedly enthrall readers seeking a torrid, tortured romance in a trendy setting; still, a...


In a historical fantasy inspired by feudal Japan, the daughter of aristocrats finds a place among sort-of-ninjas akin to Robin Hood’s band.

Hattori Mariko, barely 17, is resentful but resigned to an imperial marriage. When her caravan is waylaid, she seizes the chance to become something else. Disguised as a boy, she infiltrates the notorious Black Clan to investigate why they undertook her murder; but she is not prepared for the secrets she uncovers…especially about herself. Ahdieh’s follow-up to her superlative two-part Arabian Nights retelling, The Wrath and the Dawn (2015) and The Rows and the Dagger (2016), is equally rich in legendary glamour and again features convoluted political intrigue and star-crossed romance between a clever heroine and brooding hero. Unfortunately, the author’s extensive research results less in a sensuous, subtly constructed background than in obtrusive dumps of vocabulary and exposition. Truncated paragraphs and sentence fragments are overused to simulate dramatic tension. Mariko constantly complains of sexist oppression, but the story shows her held back mostly by her own vacillation. She is, however, amazingly ingenious, inventing an entire arsenal of ninja-style weaponry in a matter of weeks. The hints of magic are frustratingly arbitrary and vague, and the motives of the villain(s?) utterly opaque right up to the cliffhanger ending.

This story (and sequels) will undoubtedly enthrall readers seeking a torrid, tortured romance in a trendy setting; still, a disappointment from an author capable of so much more. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17163-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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

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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

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An inspirational read.


A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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