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 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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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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