Though this series entry moves somewhat slowly, newly discovered mysteries about this fantasyland's history—not to mention...

THE CROWN OF EMBERS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 2

Intelligent and thoughtful Elisa must negotiate diplomacy, religion and personal desire.

Her Majesty Queen Lucero-Elisa became sole ruler of Joya d'Arena through luck (both good and bad), wise strategic decisions and the holy magic of the Godstone embedded in her navel (The Girl of Fire and Thorns, 2011). Keeping her kingdom, on the other hand, will require diplomacy, political acumen, mercy—and deception. Elisa must fight everything from assassination attempts to rioting mobs, all while defending her country against the terrifying foreign sorcerers with "pale peach" skin and "hair the syrupy gold of honey," who only recently brought fiery destruction on her nation's capital. Elisa, deeply pragmatic and deeply religious, is required repeatedly to make intelligent, unselfish choices for the good of her nation. The lush details of this magical world are thoroughly intertwined with the profound religious faith of both heroes and villains, where each revelation leads to a crack in Elisa's worldview. Those who find no YA fantasy complete without a steamy romance will be thrilled by Elisa's growing passion for her best friend and closest adviser—who is, of course, completely off-limits.

Though this series entry moves somewhat slowly, newly discovered mysteries about this fantasyland's history—not to mention the torments of unresolved sexual tension—will have readers clamoring for volume three . (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-202651-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway.

PHANTOM HEART

Stephanie and her family move into an old mansion rumored to have been put under a curse after a turn-of-the-20th-century rich boy meddled with an Egyptian mummy.

After her young sister complains about strange events, high school student Stephanie befriends Lucas, a geeky, good-looking boy, and meets the other members of SPOoKy, the Scientific Paranormal Organization of Kentucky: Charlotte, Wes, and Patrick. Stephanie learns the history of her new home from Lucas, who attracts her romantic attention, but the usually levelheaded girl is soon drawn to Erik, the handsome phantom who first comes to her in dreams. The story is told in chapters narrated by Stephanie, Lucas, and Zedok, whose identity is initially a source of confusion to Stephanie. Zedok appears wearing different masks, “personified slivers” of his soul, representing states of mind such as Wrath, Madness, and Valor. Meanwhile, until gifted singer Stephanie came along and he could write songs for her, Erik’s dreams were thwarted; he wanted to be a composer but his family expected him to become a doctor. In the gothic horror tradition, Erik’s full background and connection with Zedok are slowly revealed. Romantic dream sequences are lush and swoon-y, but the long, drawn-out battle to end the curse, aided by a celebrity clairvoyant, is tedious, and the constant introduction of Erik’s different personae is confusing. Most characters default to White; Patrick is Black.

The Phantom of the Opera served as inspiration, but this wouldn’t last on Broadway. (Horror. 13-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11604-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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