A book that aims high but attempts to cover too much territory.

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY

Magic, murder, and mayhem abound in Foody’s debut.

Ever since her father rescued her from enslavement and adopted her when she was 3, 16-year-old Sorina has lived in Gomorrah, a huge, traveling circus-festival. Born without eyes yet magically able to see, Sorina is in charge of the Gomorrah Festival Freak Show. The attraction is full of Sorina’s illusions, semi-independent creations who have become like family: a scaled grandfather, a boneless acrobatic sister, a flaming baby, and more. But when someone begins to systematically murder her illusions, she begins to question the ways her magic can work. Fiercely loyal and protective, she’ll do whatever it takes to safeguard her family—even if it means working with extremely irritating-but-cute Luca, another Gomorrah jynx-worker. As the duo teams up to solve the murders and prevent more, their connection grows from irritation to friendship to attraction. Luca appears to be demisexual, disinclined to build sexual or romantic relationships without an emotional bond, and the couple has welcome conversations about the speed of their relationship and consent. While many characters are coded as white, it is implied that many of Gomorrah’s residents (including Sorina) are racially diverse. The novel clearly attempts to champion the outsider (and arguably does so successfully with demisexuality), but its disruption of our world’s stigmatization of disability is incomplete—both in its inconsistent questioning of “freak” (though Sorina’s arc is one of empowerment) and in Sorina’s disability-erasing magical sight.

A book that aims high but attempts to cover too much territory. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-373-21243-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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