Joan Aiken or Terry Pratchett this ain't, but the lightweight, gleefully anachronistic comedy will entertain with its cast...

MY LADY JANE

From the Lady Janies series

Lady Jane Grey's nine days as queen are reimagined as a tongue-in-cheek shape-shifter romance.

Between the reigns of adolescent King Edward VI and his bloodthirsty half sister, Mary I, England was ruled for nine days by doomed Lady Jane, a 16-year-old political pawn—or that's how it went in our world. In the world of this novel, both Edward and Jane have happier endings. Instead of Catholics and Protestants, England is torn between the Eðians, who shape-shift into animals, and the Verities, who loathe them. As in reality, Jane is wed to Gifford (Guildford in history) Dudley, installed as queen, and imprisoned by Mary. However, thisJane and Gifford escape their executions through animal magic. It's inconvenient for the newlyweds' sex life that Gifford spends every dawn to dusk as a horse, but it’s also terribly convenient for frantic escapes from Mary's soldiers. Fourth-wall–breaking and pop-culture references that span from Shakespeare to Game of Thronesshow signs of strain, especially the many references to The Princess Bride(1973). The latter, sometimes layered one atop the other without a break, merely highlight this book’s contrast with the classic's stellar comic timing; perhaps it's for the best that few teen readers will be familiar with either the decades-old film or even older book.

Joan Aiken or Terry Pratchett this ain't, but the lightweight, gleefully anachronistic comedy will entertain with its cast of likable heroes and buffoonish villains (. (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239174-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice.

THE FIELD GUIDE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN TEENAGER

A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.

Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe’s debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom’s new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid–school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide–style burn book. He’s greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris’ ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he’s hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris’ voice detract.

Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-282411-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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