Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing.

GILDED SERPENT

From the Dark Shores series , Vol. 3

The parallel storylines of Dark Shores (2019) and Dark Skies (2020) continue in this sequel that ties the two together.

Teriana, Marcus, Killian, and Lydia return as point-of-view characters in interwoven stories. Thematically uniting the protagonists is the idea of struggling against conflicting loyalties. Teriana and Marcus struggle with trust, both in terms of being able to trust each other, as they are technically enemies, and individually. Teriana is torn between protecting her people, held hostage by the Empire, or keeping the Empire from spreading into the West; Marcus longs for freedom from the Empire even as his loyalty to the men of his legion is challenged by his knowledge that there’s a traitor among them. Killian feels guilty over the choice he made between Lydia and Malahi, whose father is an inferior ruler, while Lydia’s struggles sneak up on her. The multiple storylines spread the characters to distant corners, presenting new worldbuilding opportunities. The balance between characters allows for a sense of time and travel while characters are on the move, with quicker check-ins preventing the pace from getting bogged down in between devastating revelations, deadly action, intrigue, and, of course, romance culminating in steamy scenes. The characters’ storylines resolve their immediate dilemmas while presenting new dangers for the next installment. Both the East and West feature casual diversity—skin tones (ranging from fair-skinned Lydia to black-skinned Teriana) are sometimes geographically linked but generally lack significance.

Sprawling yet intricate and completely engrossing. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31779-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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