Things may not end happily ever after, but they do end just right.

FIVE DARK FATES

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 4

Four rival queens, civil war, vengeful ghosts, lethal mists, torture, madness…any happy ending seems very unlikely in this conclusion of a pitch-black fantasy quartet.

As Arsinoe turns to low magic in a frantic effort to cure Jules’ legion curse, Mirabella abandons the rebel army for Katharine. But the dead queens possessing the Queen Crowned grow ever more bloodthirsty, and all Fennbirn Island may have to pay the cost. The earlier books assembled huge casts to wrangle and an enormous tangle of plot threads to tie off, so it’s no surprise that even with its considerable heft, this tome feels a bit crowded and rushed. But if Blake (Two Dark Reigns, 2018, etc.) relies on a deus ex machina (or, more accurately, a dea ex caverna) to resolve otherwise intractable narrative knots, she does not stint on her characters: Each one is a complicated, sympathetic individual with intelligible motivations despite their often bloody deeds. As the story digs into the legendary history of Fennbirn’s matriarchal culture—apparently default white but also intriguingly default female and explicitly not default heterosexual—it gains greater depth and richness. Yet this world remains harsh, dark, and graphically violent, filled with impossible choices and dreadful sacrifices; As everyone fights, betrays, or tries to flee, all are inevitably drawn to the climactic clash that leaves no one unscathed.

Things may not end happily ever after, but they do end just right. (cast of characters, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-268617-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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