A tepid sequel filled with angst, power grabs, and politics.

THE RISING TIDE

From the Fiery Spiral series , Vol. 2

A teen girl navigates a world that is new to her—and that she is tasked to save.

Sixteen-year-old Ebba is now an official Citizen of Table Island and one of the richest people there, more powerful than she ever could have imagined. Many are eager to take advantage of her naïveté. Her biggest challenges are figuring out how to leverage her wealth and power and make her farm more profitable in order to provide for more people than she anticipated—all while trying to find the four missing amulets that will prevent the coming of the second Calamity. But all Ebba really wants is to be happy and carefree with her first love, Micah, and the friends she grew up with. Plagued by secrets and a new source of insecurity in the form of a perceived rival in love, it’s uncertain whether Ebba will figure out to whom she can turn to help save herself and those she cares about. Set in a fantasy version of South Africa and featuring a multiethnic cast, Brain’s follow-up to The Thousand Steps (2019) is a weaker effort than its predecessor: Ebba is an underdeveloped protagonist whose recklessly impulsive and indecisive behavior may frustrate readers. Clunky transitions made it difficult to invest in the story, resulting in confusing, anticlimactic scenes.

A tepid sequel filled with angst, power grabs, and politics. (maps, family tree) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-946395-49-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Catalyst Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

FOR THE WOLF

Twin princesses—one fated to become a queen, the other a martyr—find themselves caught up in an unexpected battle of dark magic and ancient gods.

Four hundred years ago, a Valleydan princess facing a loveless betrothal sought refuge in the Wilderwood with her lover, the Wolf. The legendary Five Kings—including her father and her husband-to-be—pursued them only to be trapped in the Wilderwood. Now, according to legend, the only hope of restoring the Five Kings to power lies in the ritual sacrifice of every Second Daughter born to Valleyda's queen. There hasn't been a second daughter for 100 years—until now. On her 20th birthday, Redarys accepts her fate and walks into the Wilderwood to become the Wolf's next victim only to find that the stories she grew up on were lies. The handsome man who lives in a crumbling castle deep in the forest is not the original Wolf but his son, and he wants nothing to do with Red or her sacrifice. Afraid of her wild magic abilities and the danger they pose to her sister, Neverah, Red refuses to leave the Wilderwood. Instead, she clings to the new Wolf, Eammon, who will do whatever it takes to protect her from the grisly fate of the other Second Daughters. Meanwhile, in the Valleydan capital, Neve's desperation to bring her sister home sets her on a path that may spell disaster for Red, Eammon, and the Wilderwood itself. Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss.

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-59278-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences.

REALM BREAKER

When the realm is in danger, only a small band of misfits can save Allward.

An in medias res prologue, told from the point of view of the lone squire accompanying the 12 Companions of the Realm, tosses readers into the thick of a quest. Half the Companions are human heroes and half are immortal Elders; they seek to stop a rogue thief and his wizard accomplice from using a magical Spindle to tear a passage between worlds for nefarious ends. A disastrous battle sends squire Andry fleeing with Cortael’s sword so villain Taristan can’t get his hands on it. Grieving Elder Dom requires both a person of Corblood (a descendant of human travelers from another realm) and the Spindleblade Andry protects to stop Taristan from bringing ruin to the realm. Dom seeks Cortael’s secret daughter, Corayne, a bright but sheltered teenager with a pirate mother. At times the narrative tension is undermined by flashbacks that readers already know the conclusions to and by occasional repetition caused by the multiple point-of-view jumps, but there’s a wide variety of action scenes, daring escapes, and betrayals. Many tropes and character types are familiar, but exquisite descriptions and clashing motivations result in a nuanced, sprawling realm with a sense of complicated history. This world is highly diverse in terms of both skin tone and in the refreshing range of roles female characters inhabit.

An epic series opener of old-school high fantasy catering to modern audiences. (map) (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287262-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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