Another winning installment.

THE DEVIL'S MUSIC

From the Montague Twins series , Vol. 2

The fall of 1969 brings more mystery, suspense, and self-knowledge to twin brothers Alastair and Peter Montague—this time involving a rock ’n’ roll tune that may drive listeners to suicide.

Fans will be thrilled to learn that this sequel is as engaging as The Witch’s Hand (2020) while providing just enough background to draw in new readers. The twins’ friend Rachel Bradford—whose cruel father was killed in a car crash—now hangs with their circle, learning from their magic teacher, Rowan. The power of music is a recurrent thread: Former rock singer Gideon Drake watches a performance by the twins’ group, Bony Fingers, and his appearance stirs Al’s hero worship and Pete’s blossoming feelings of same-sex attraction. But why is Gideon really in Port Howl? Will the teenagers be allowed to become “the newest members of a highly secret magical faction”? Is new arrival Uncle Eli truly evil? Intertwining plots are set against the backdrop of an atmospheric setting that includes a decrepit stately home in which a group of menacing, robed figures called the Faculty ask questions; the walls resound loudly if an answer is less than truthful. The first-rate illustrations have a retro feel, the pacing is excellent, period details are used effectively, and the good-natured bantering provides entertainment, balancing serious subjects like mental illness and substance abuse. Rowan reads as Black; other main characters are White.

Another winning installment. (Graphic mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-64680-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

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THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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