THE RING OF SOLOMON

From the Bartimaeus series , Vol. 4

The entertainingly cocky djinni scraps his way through a 950 BCE escapade mostly unrelated to his series (The Bartimaeus Trilogy) but in that same metaphysical world. Any competent magician can summon Bartimaeus to Earth and enslave him, though none can suppress his amusingly snide commentary (complete with witty footnotes). Assigned to chase bandits outside a corrupt Jerusalem, he meets Asmira, a young woman whose third-person-limited narrative sections are told in a reserved, pragmatic voice. She treks to Jerusalem on a mission to assassinate King Solomon, who threatens her country of Sheba. Magical detonations enhance the tension as Asmira creeps closer to King Solomon and his world-controlling ring. Semi-success in her quest raises new questions, expanding her worldview and making her think in new ways. Despite Asmira’s likability, copious action and suspense, the text’s sharp elegance and Bartimaeus’s funny panache under duress, the prose moves slowly throughout, partly due to over-description. Best for worshippers of popular Bartimaeus and fantasy readers who don’t require a quick pace. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2372-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans.

THE VICIOUS DEEP

From the Vicious Deep series , Vol. 1

Another mermaid book joins the flood.

Tristan Hart “was born at sea.” It’s no wonder he is the star of the high-school swim team and a Coney Island lifeguard. But while Tristan always prided himself on swimming like a fish, he never imagined he’d become one. When a rescue attempt in stormy seas nearly robs Tristan of his life and leaves him with some unexpected physical side effects, the truth shakes Tristan to the very last scale of his newly sprouted fishtail. Son of a human father and a mother whose distress over their son’s transformation never feels truly genuine, Tristan discovers he is heir to the Sea King’s throne and must compete in a tournament to lay claim to the kingdom. With his best friend and secret love, Layla, and his mer-guardians, Kurt and Thalia, by his side, Tristan battles creatures from the deep on land, at sea and in his own mind. Herein lies one of the novel's greatest problems. Despite the alluring title, the creatures in this story, with the exception of one particularly scary excommunicated mermaid, simply aren’t that vicious. In fact, their descriptions—like the small, round half-man, half–blow fish—seem more suited to one of the original Star Wars movies than contemporary teen fiction.

Neither vicious nor deep, the novel is mildly entertaining and will likely appeal most to dedicated mer-fans. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4022-6510-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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THE SHADOW MOTHER

The traditional selkie story plays out in an arc of unrequited love and abandonment in this moody iteration.

Writing in terse prose cast into short lines, Virgo begins the story with the sailor going to sea as a boy but halfway through suddenly shifts point of view to that of the dreamy child born to the silent couple years later. The author shows similar indecision in describing the selkie’s garment. It is a “shadow” when the sailor steals it and a “roll of white skin” when the boy (rather than, as is more common, his mother) at last takes it down to the sea one night and swims “out under the old / moon’s path on the waters, leaving / his memories behind.” As if the sailor’s immoral act and the ensuing picture of failed domestic life in the narrative isn’t sad and remote enough, Pérez adds a full suite of subtly tinted sketches that depict either small, slumped figures in lonely landscapes or claustrophobic assemblages of floating bodies or heads, detached hands and surreal fish with human faces. As the lead victim, the selkie woman is most likely to draw sympathy from readers, but she is the least developed of the three central figures. Not much here for children, but the portentous atmosphere may prompt readers of the inked and pierced set to overlook the story’s overall lack of clarity or cohesion. (Folk tale. 14-18)

 

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-88899-971-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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