Absolutely necessary to those who loved the first; otherwise mostly incoherent.

SMOKE IN THE SUN

From the Flame in the Mist series , Vol. 2

It’s out of the outlaw forest and into the imperial court in this conclusion of a fantasy duology set in an alternate feudal Japan.

Newly “rescued” from the Black Clan, Hattori Mariko returns to the path her noble family prescribes, affianced to the brother of the new Emperor of Wa. Mariko resolves to play the meek, dutiful maiden (even if that requires actually marrying brutal Raiden) in order to spy for the rebels and possibly rescue her beloved Okami. But with dark powers threatening everything Mariko cherishes, her cleverness may not be enough. With admirable brio, Ahdieh (Flame in the Mist, 2017, etc.) serves up intrigues and counterintrigues, battles and betrayals, harrowing scenes of graphic torture and interludes of heated romance, conveyed through no fewer than seven viewpoints. Nuanced female characters drive the action, including a gratifyingly matured Mariko: less preternaturally ingenious but more intelligent and aware; less insistent upon honor but unshakable in her integrity. Unfortunately, the choppy, overwrought prose again substitutes a deluge of Japanese vocabulary for thoughtful worldbuilding. The magical system, while clarified, still fails to fully explore its implications. Eventually the snarl of complicated schemes lurches to a rushed climax—entangling a (clichéd) lunatic villain, an (implausible) heel-face turn, and a (no, really!) weaponized zombie apocalypse—followed by a discordant epilogue littered with jaunty romantic banter and abandoned plotlines.

Absolutely necessary to those who loved the first; otherwise mostly incoherent. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3814-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

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

Did you like this book?

more