A historical fiction/fantasy mashup with crossover appeal.

THE KINGDOM OF BACK

The year clavier prodigy Maria Anna Mozart’s younger brother, Wolfgang Amadeus, begins to show an even more astonishing musical genius, a mysterious boy from a fairy land enters her life.

Lu (Rebel, 2019, etc.) interweaves 18th-century historical figures and events with a fantasy land called the Kingdom of Back, an alternate world actually invented and named by the real Mozart siblings, Nannerl and Woferl, where trees grow upside down and a prince and princess are missing. Hyacinth, a beautiful, shadowy boy, pale and blue-eyed, is the go-between who offers Nannerl figurative immortality in return for her help. As Nannerl craves her father’s attention and wishes to escape the inevitable anonymity that womanhood promises, she agrees. Over the next decade, she straddles both worlds, performing, composing, and navigating relationships with Woferl and her domineering father in one while battling supernatural foes for Hyacinth in the other. But as she grows, so do her doubts. Is Hyacinth the benevolent fairy he claims to be? Is success at her brother’s expense really what she wanted? Lu’s melding of history and fantasy is a clever idea, but the Kingdom of Back and its denizens feel like stock figures compiled from generic fairy tales in contrast to her portrayal of the real Mozarts’ lives, which is much more remarkable, emotional, and compelling than the fantasy land.

A historical fiction/fantasy mashup with crossover appeal. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3901-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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