A richly textured story of rage, romance, and rebellion.

THE FAITHLESS HAWK

From the Merciful Crow series , Vol. 2

Plague and power struggles continue to ravage a kingdom in this sequel to 2019’s The Merciful Crow.

Unlike the 11 other bird-named castes of Sabor, only the Crows can handle the Sinner’s Plague victims, dispatching fatal “mercy,” handling corpses, and taking teeth as payment, yet they are reviled. Fierce young Fie, now a chieftain, and her Crows already delivered Prince Jasimir to safety once, but their promised protection—from daily abuse and nighttime Oleander Gentry raids—is threatened again by Queen Rhusana’s ruthless rise to power. When Rhusana interrupts Fie’s too-brief reunion with Jasimir and Tavin (his half brother, a royal bastard, and Fie’s love interest) via gruesome zombielike skin-ghasts and new mind-control magic, Fie goes solo. Familiar with death, decay, and discrimination, Fie is a refreshingly earthy and grimly determined protagonist with borrowed powers but innate pugnaciousness; romance clashes with her self-reliance. In a world where the dead gods may be reincarnated and every caste has witches and Birthrights, inequality and prejudices nevertheless fester, albeit along caste and class lines (rather than explicitly racial ones). If the first installment was a hair-raising road-trip/hardscrabble survival tale, this one is a proper court intrigue laced with looming social revolution, cryptic religious prophecies, and a fair amount of gore. Owen also raises the stakes, forcing self-reliant Fie to save all Sabor in order to protect all Crows, not just her band, while sustaining the suspense and adventure.

A richly textured story of rage, romance, and rebellion. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19194-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.

THE WICKED KING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 2

A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).

Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31035-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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