Despite frequently inelegant prose, the story will probably please series fans.

MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL

A TALE OF THE DARK FAIRY

From the Villains series , Vol. 4

Disney’s Villains series’ fourth installment highlights Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent.

Maleficent turns to the villainous witch trio the Odd Sisters for aid finding Aurora. Although they were lost in the land of dreams after Poor Unfortunate Soul (2016), they give enough advice that Maleficent succeeds in the spindle plot. But Maleficent needs Aurora gone for good, so she abducts Prince Phillip and seeks the assistance of two other powerful witches, Circe and Nanny, to ensure Aurora never wakes. The connections with the previous books of the series (including periodic recaps and reminders as well as appearances by Princess Tulip, Snow White, Queen Grimhilde, and more) as well as the back story shared among Maleficent and the other characters are told in lengthy, sometimes-clunky expository passages and flashbacks. The nonlinear plotting allows for forward plot progression on the storyline with Circe and her sisters, as well as a metafictive one about a storybook. In flashbacks, Maleficent goes from an isolated outcast adopted by Nanny to a victim of extreme bullying to the villain. Feminist Maleficent sneers at the princesses-needing-rescue trope, thereby insidiously reinforcing it, and the book primarily concerns itself with all manner of relationships between females. The story builds to a revelation that answers the question of why Maleficent seeks to destroy Aurora. Aside from colorful Maleficent (she modulates between green and lavender), if other characters’ skin tones are described, they’re pale.

Despite frequently inelegant prose, the story will probably please series fans. (Fantasy. 10-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-368-00901-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title.

OUR VIOLENT ENDS

From the These Violent Delights series , Vol. 2

New monsters terrorize Shanghai amid political upheaval and the reignition of the blood feud between the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers.

The death of Marshall Seo unleashed a new wave of violence, but when a mysterious figure wielding control over more deadly-insect–releasing monsters begins extorting money from both gangs, their leaders agree to temporarily cooperate in the interests of eliminating a mutual foe. They order their respective heirs to find the blackmailer, and so, once again, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai must work together for the benefit of those under their protection. But their feelings for each other—complicated by hidden truths, lingering love, and unforgiving duty—prove difficult to repress. Meanwhile, the time of revolution draws near: Workers continue to organize protests decrying both foreign occupation and gangster rule as the Nationalist Army marches toward Shanghai in its campaign to unite and reclaim the country. Secrets abound and loyalties are tested in this tightly plotted sequel featuring a multinational cast and told through multiple third-person perspectives, including those of supporting characters introduced in These Violent Delights (2020). Stubborn Rosalind, obliging Kathleen, and grief-stricken Benedikt all return to play vital roles that blend seamlessly into Roma’s and Juliette’s storylines as they each are forced to consider what it is they truly want and the lengths they will go to protect it.

Star-crossed lovers carve their own paths in an explosive conclusion that lives up to its title. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-45772-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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