Diverting and atmospheric.

VIOLET MADE OF THORNS

A disillusioned seer and a privileged prince: the stuff of fairy tales.

After an encounter with the prince and princess of Auveny, 18-year-old Violet Lune is plucked from the slums and brought to the palace, where she quickly becomes the kingdom’s new Seer. Taken under the wing of King Emilius, she becomes a favorite at court and eventually a trusted player in the king’s schemes, often setting her at odds with his son, Prince Cyrus. With a curse threatening both Cyrus’ life and the kingdom’s future, there is more scheming than ever before: Violet must maintain her precarious position as Seer, doing the king’s bidding and sorting out her constant feuding with Cyrus. At the same time, her dreams are becoming stranger: Ultimately, fate may force her to choose between the prince and herself. As the kingdom is threatened from within and without, with beasts massing on the borders and internal instability, everything comes down to the heart of the prince and the unlikely girl who might claim it. Chen draws pleasingly upon fairy-tale motifs, juxtaposing the rosy glow of stories with the real possibility of ugly, mundane realities. The Kingdom of Auveny evokes medieval Europe; Violet’s mother was exiled from the Kingdom of Yuenen, which is coded as a fantasy-world equivalent of China, making for a refreshing change from typical high-fantasy settings. Deeper worldbuilding and explorations of certain characters’ motivations would have expanded the story beyond the central romance.

Diverting and atmospheric. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42753-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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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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