Absolutely blonkers; giddiness-inducing for the most open-minded of readers.

A PECULIAR PERIL

From the Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead series , Vol. 1

Family secrets give way to a madcap marathon portal fantasy.

Tasked with cataloging his dead hoarder grandfather’s mansion’s contents, 16-year-old recently orphaned naturalist Jonathan also puzzles over his grandfather’s nonsensical instructions. Strange and dangerous things lead Jonathan to conclude his grandfather was murdered—a conclusion reached too late to prevent school friends Rack and his good-natured, athletic sister, Danny, from arriving to help. Meanwhile, on parallel world Aurora, Aleister Crowley, aided by his grotesque familiar, Wretch, and the head of Napoleon, is the Lord Emperor of the Franco-Germanic Empire, seeking to conquer Prague (with mecha-elephants) and England (by attacking the wall on the land bridge—a wall whose defenders wear cod-head–shaped codpieces—with a doomsday earthworm-dreadnought devised by Jules Verne for use against H.G. Wells). As the mansion has doors between worlds, the Earth gang (with Jonathan theorized to be special) decides to help the Order of the Third Door against Crowley to prevent the war’s reaching Earth. Aurora’s an enthusiastic hodgepodge of antique fantasy elements (talking animals), touches of cosmic horror, clever wordplay, genre deconstruction, and butt humor, all tied together with a just-go-with-it fever-dream logic. Constant viewpoint jumps (including a MacGuffin-turned-narrator) slow down the already meandering, tangent-heavy, complicated (spies spying spies) story’s pace but allow for savoring weirdness until the cliffhanger ending. Jonathan and Danny seem to be White; Jonathan is asexual and Danny is bisexual. Danish Korean adoptee Rack uses a prosthetic leg.

Absolutely blonkers; giddiness-inducing for the most open-minded of readers. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30886-5

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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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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