Formulaic doesn’t mean faulty, though, and girl-centric historical fantasy’s ever-growing niche can certainly hold another...

CHANTRESS

From the Chantress series , Vol. 1

In an alternate England, a young girl raised in isolation may hold the power to save the nation.

Lucy scarcely remembers anything before the shipwreck that left her, with nursemaid/guardian Norrie, on a deserted island. She does know never to sing, and she knows that she must never ever remove the stone pendant her mother left her. So it will be no surprise that when she does both, she opens the gates to magic and is transported to 17th-century England, where the nearly mad Lord Protector and his enchanted ravens control by fear and terror. Lucy is a Chantress, possibly the last and, as a result, the only hope the revolutionaries (including the cute and smart Nat) have to destroy the Chantress-fueled magic of Lord Scargrave. The plotting is pedestrian to a fault and laughably simplistic, but Lucy is engaging enough, and Greenfield’s England balances the familiar with the original to great effect. There are no surprises: Of course Lucy succeeds; of course she and Nat fall in love; of course there will be a sequel.

Formulaic doesn’t mean faulty, though, and girl-centric historical fantasy’s ever-growing niche can certainly hold another volume. (author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5703-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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