Characterization elevates this romance over similar offerings in a crowded genre.

LET THE SKY FALL

From the Sky Fall series , Vol. 1

A teenage boy discovers his magical heritage and falls in love with his protector.

Vane Weston has no memories of his life before a tornado killed his parents, only dreams haunted by a beautiful girl. Audra’s been following Vane as his assigned protector from the Gale Force. Although Vane has no memory of it, he is an air elemental, or sylph, just like Audra—in fact, he is the key piece in a war against the stock villain, a power-hungry sylph tyrant who murdered Vane’s parents. Doing her duties, Audra accidentally reveals their location—in much the same way that, years ago, she unintentionally alerted enemy soldiers, called Stormers, to Audra’s parents’ location as they served as guardians for Vane’s family. This prior accident ended in numerous casualties. Vane must awaken to his heritage and powers, mastering the languages of the four winds (one for each direction), if they are to stand a chance when the Stormers come for them. Audra has only days to train him, adding temporal tension. Chapters alternate first-person narration between Vane and Audra, with Audra’s redemptive arc adding meat to the orphan-hero-discovering-his-magical-heritage storyline. While some early exposition is clunky, once the story settles into a character-driven rhythm, the prose smooths out considerably. The twists at the end are refreshing rather than cheap.

Characterization elevates this romance over similar offerings in a crowded genre. (Paranormal romance. 12-17)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5041-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit.

THESE HOLLOW VOWS

Brie risks the deadly land of the Fae to save her sister.

Brie doesn’t trust many people other than Jas, her eternally hopeful sister, and Sebastian, mage apprentice and Brie’s secret love (as if she had time for romance). Brie struggles to meet the payments for the magical contracts binding their lives to Madame Vivias, supplementing her cleaning work by stealing from the rich. While the land of Faerie tempts other girls with word of a castle, a lavish ball, and a fae prince seeking a wife, Brie mistrusts the creatures who capitalize on humanity’s greed. When Jas’ contract is sold to the fae, Brie braves the golden Seelie queen’s court, meets the noble Prince Ronan, and travels on to the Unseelie king’s shadow court. In the process she discovers love, historical secrets, atrocities, and her own hidden strength. While many elements regarding the fae and a love triangle will feel familiar to fans of the genre, and the magic could have been more fleshed out, discussions of power, inequity, trust, and hope expand the worldbuilding in refreshing ways. Similarly, consideration of the balance between truth and secrets, lies and stories, is intriguing as it’s applied to characters, relationships, and historical lore. Despite certain predictable reveals, the plot itself, which starts off slowly, picks up and is pleasantly convoluted with multiple satisfying surprises. Major human characters read as White.

An entertaining fantasy set in a world that readers will want to revisit. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38657-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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