PROMISE OF SHADOWS

A reluctant Harpy discovers her destiny in an elaborate Greek-mythology–based fantasy.

As the book opens, readers learn that Zephyr’s sister, Whisper, was killed for her forbidden romance with Hermes; Harpies are vættir—partly human, therefore lesser—and are not permitted to intimately fraternize with full gods, called Æthereals. In retaliation, Zephyr killed Whisper’s Æthereal executioner—a supposedly impossible act—and has been sentenced to eternity in the worst part of the Underworld, Tartarus (where the weather is crappy—literally). Zephyr’s forbidden, dark power enabled the kill and, she learns, marks her as the prophesied Nyx, a champion of “shadow vættir,” who maintains balance and protects vættir from Æthereal tyranny. Knowing the Æthereals will surely kill her soon, Zephyr escapes Tartarus with the help of Cass, her enigmatic friend and protector (who everyone they meet says is a liar and betrayer), Tallon, an attractive childhood friend, and his brother, Blue. They form a ragtag team to keep her alive so she can thwart a terrible plot against the vættir. The romantic plot is the least successful element of this character-driven story. Far more compelling are Zephyr’s struggles to accept herself as a hero, considering she’s failed her Trials to become a Harpy warrior. The complicated worldbuilding piles on the jargon, but Zephyr’s narration hooks readers with snappy, hilarious one-liners.

A dark, slyly funny read. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4464-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

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RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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