Unflinching, bloodstained magic.

INTO THE BLOODRED WOODS

In this dark fantasy woven together from reimagined fairy tales, a werebear princess and her cruel twin brother vie for inheritance of their father’s crown.

Once upon a time, a story unfolds after a farmer lies to a king, saying that his daughter can spin grass into gold. In this kingdom, the first-born—always a boy—inherits. But when the common-born queen gives birth to twins, first a werebear girl, then a human boy, no one can agree who has the right of succession. Princess Ursula believes in her claim to the throne: Under her benevolent rule, she’d overturn unjust laws that oppress other werefolk. Full of contempt for his sister, Albrecht, the vicious, vain prince, plots his own ascent, no matter the cost. With precise, and poetic prose, Brockenbrough twists and intertwines familiar tales—“Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Goldilocks,” among others—to craft an intricate, cohesive narrative framed as a story within a story. Ursula and Albrecht are White; the ensemble cast of primary characters includes two brown-skinned women, one of whom has a fraught emotional relationship with the princess. Injustice, misinformation, and consent are significant themes. While at times the depictions of violence (including sexual assault) are visceral and brutal, this stand-alone journey into grim woodlands arrives at a subversive resolution more satisfying than a traditional happily-ever-after.

Unflinching, bloodstained magic. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-67387-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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