A tantalizing, strategic setup for the next installment, which has all the ingredients to be a knockout.

THE MASK FALLING

From the Bone Season series , Vol. 4

The Pale Dreamer is back after narrowly surviving torture at the hands of the clairvoyant-hating Republic of Scion in The Song Rising (2017).

Scion would prefer you to think the Pale Dreamer is dead. And the dreamer herself, Paige Mahoney, is OK with that. The girl from the clairvoyant underworld of London is no more. Since defeating her previous mime-lord, Jaxon, and becoming Underqueen of London’s clairvoyant community–turned-rebellion, Paige has molded herself into the leader known as Black Moth. And while Black Moth has gained a vast following for the rumor that she single-handedly destroyed the clairvoyant-detecting system Senshield, she has barely escaped that victory with her life. After Paige is forced to flee London, the start of this long-awaited fourth installment of Shannon's Bone Season series finds her with her battle armor off, convalescing while in hiding in Paris alongside Arcturus Mesarthim, her controversial guardian and supporter. For those with rusty memories, Arcturus belongs to an immortal race known as the Rephaim, who were forced to leave the Netherworld as their home fell to ruins. Scion’s biggest secret is that it’s run by the Rephaim behind the scenes, most notably by Nashira Sargas, who seeks to control the world’s clairvoyant community to serve the Rephaim. Arcturus defied Nashira to help Paige seek rebellion, and now this oddly matched pair are bound to one another. Paige barely has time to rest when a new underground group, the Domino Programme, comes knocking. This network of free-world spies wants her help as they attempt to undercut Scion—which is planning to invade the Iberian Peninsula—from the inside using Paige’s gift as a Dreamwalker. Not used to taking orders, Paige balances risky operations within the inner circles of Scion leadership while trying to establish connections with the Paris clairvoyant syndicate. Between her duties as an agent as well as Black Moth, coupled with the exhausting will they, won’t they bit with Arcturus, it’s enough to make Paige literally out of breath. The constant slew of injuries, action scenes, and near-death escapes, which further shift the series’ genre from fantasy toward the dystopian realm, distracts from the excellent worldbuilding that is the tale’s beating heart. Sticking with Paige to the end will leave you with new secrets about the Rephaim and Scion’s future plans, along with an emerging threat that is sure to surprise—and will give readers hope that we have yet to learn everything about the potential of human clairvoyance. Thrilling, indeed.

A tantalizing, strategic setup for the next installment, which has all the ingredients to be a knockout.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-032-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A genre- (and gender-) bending take on the classic Western.

OUTLAWED

A young woman in an alternate version of the 1890s American West joins a gang of outlaws.

Ada is just a teenager living in the Independent Town of Fairchild when she’s married off and expected to start a family with her new husband. The daughter of the town’s midwife, Ada knows just about all there is to know about childbirth and childbearing—except the reasons behind the failure to conceive, the worst fate that can befall a woman in her society. (The standard punishment for a “barren” woman is to be hanged as a witch.) When she herself cannot get pregnant, Ada must leave her mother and young sisters behind, first fleeing to a convent. Then, when she becomes dissatisfied by the limitations to her learning that convent life dictates, she is directed by the Mother Superior to the Hole in the Wall Gang. Well known as robbers in “the territories,” the gang is led by the mysterious Kid, a figure said to be as “tall as a pine tree and as strong as a grizzly bear.” But when Ada is secreted to their hideout, she finds none of the outlaws, least of all the Kid, are what they seem. North has smashed two unlikely genres together here: the dystopian alternate history and the Western. Calling it The Handmaid’s Tale crossed with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid goes some way to describe the novel’s memorable world, but it is also wholly its own. It earns its place in the growing canon of fiction that subverts the Western genre by giving voice to the true complexity of gender and sexual expression, as well as race relations, that has previously been pushed to the margins of traditional cowboy or westward expansion tales.

A genre- (and gender-) bending take on the classic Western.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-542-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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