A thoughtful and empowering hero’s journey.

HERRICK'S END

From the Neath series , Vol. 1

A young man journeys through a new world to rescue a friend in need.

Nineteen-year-old Ollie Delgato floats through life untethered as an orphaned son from an abusive household, a fat young man who believes himself unlovable and who’s working a food-service job in Boston to make ends meet as he waits for community college to start. When his friend Nell goes missing, Ollie’s worry about her well-being leads him to the Neath, a magical, mysterious underworld originally created by witches to protect and hide survivors of abuse. Before long, Ollie makes friends and foes; among his allies is Tera, a budding painter, but his time is running out because visitors to the Neath only have a few days there before their lungs mutate and they are unable to leave. Something is rotten at the Neath’s core, and what began as Ollie’s earnest search for a friend turns into a quest for survival, justice, and acceptance. Blanchet’s debut is the first in a promising trilogy that examines the line between setting things right and exacting revenge in surprising ways. Set in a whimsical underworld full of dangers and wonders, this coming-of-age story develops Ollie’s sense of community and belonging while his internalized fatphobia, white-knight complex, and sense of self-worth are thoughtfully explored, questioned, and subverted. Ollie is cued as White; Tera has brown skin.

A thoughtful and empowering hero’s journey. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-946501-41-7

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Tiny Fox Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A different kind of fairy tale, for older and wiser readers.

BRAVELY

Disney adaptations are familiar, but this title marks a new gambit: a novel sequel that accepts the source movie, Brave, as canon.

Merida, now nearly 20, has negotiated a truce with her mother (they never talk about betrothals or marriage) and traveled the kingdom learning new things. But little has changed otherwise: The triplets are still a force of chaos, Merida prefers archery to embroidery, the kingdom is at peace, and magic is at rest. That is, until Feradach, the god who brings ruin in order to make room for growth, threatens to destroy everything Merida loves unless she can change her family enough to end their stagnation. This is still clearly a fairy-tale world, but Stiefvater’s understanding of medieval history (briefly detailed in the author’s note) grounds it, as does the very believable nature of Merida’s conflict: Saving what she loves means transforming it beyond what she knows. The episodic structure as Merida takes on three journeys, each with different family members, moves more slowly than the movie, but the depth of characterization—as shown in Feradach and Queen Elinor in particular—is nuanced and noteworthy. Readers who spent their childhoods watching Merida engage with magic will readily fall under her spell again as she negotiates the hardest challenge of all: growing up. All characters are assumed White.

A different kind of fairy tale, for older and wiser readers. (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07134-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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