DANCE OF THE ASSASSINS

THE DEVIL’S DANCES, VOLUME 1

This grandiose futuristic fantasy has clever concepts but falls prey to vague metaphysics and muddled prose. London, Paris and Venice are no longer real cities but historical stage sets created for tourism; they change sets every few days. In London, Jack the Ripper suddenly reappears and commits real murder. Middle-aged sorcerer Roberta, an appealingly offbeat adult protagonist, is paired with a younger man named Martineau to solve the mystery. Historical poisoner La Voisin appears next, in Paris. A corrupt and immortal politician and the Devil himself turn out to be involved. Can evil be defeated through legal wrangling? The Devil may be the lesser of two evils in this struggle between reincarnated killers and the Prince of Deceivers. Touches of cleverness and humor pop up fairly often, but not often enough to make this a farce. Lavish but confusing descriptions (from metaphysical to spatial) prevent it from approaching solidity. Unwieldy. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-077717-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Whether you came for the lore or the love, perfection.

THE QUEEN OF NOTHING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 3

Broken people, complicated families, magic, and Faerie politics: Black’s back.

After the tumultuous ending to the last volume (marriage, exile, and the seeming collapse of all her plots), Jude finds herself in the human world, which lacks appeal despite a childhood spent longing to go back. The price of her upbringing becomes clear: A human raised in the multihued, multiformed, always capricious Faerie High Court by the man who killed her parents, trained for intrigue and combat, recruited to a spy organization, and ultimately the power behind the coup and the latest High King, Jude no longer understands how to exist happily in a world that isn’t full of magic and danger. A plea from her estranged twin sends her secretly back to Faerie, where things immediately come to a boil with Cardan (king, nemesis, love interest) and all the many political strands Jude has tugged on for the past two volumes. New readers will need to go back to The Cruel Prince (2018) to follow the complexities—political and personal side plots abound—but the legions of established fans will love every minute of this lushly described, tightly plotted trilogy closer. Jude might be traumatized and emotionally unhealthy, but she’s an antihero worth cheering on. There are few physical descriptions of humans and some queer representation.

Whether you came for the lore or the love, perfection. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31042-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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