THE GREY KING

Will Stanton, youngest of the Old Ones, goes to visit his Welsh relatives to recover from a serious illness and complete the first quest he has undertaken on his own. Aided only by the mysterious albino boy, Bran, and his gray-eyed dog, Cafall, Will must find the magic golden harp and use it to defeat the Grey King of the mountain and awaken The Sleepers, who will be powerful allies of the Light in its final stand. Strangely enough it is the very real peril of two dogs—Cafall and Pen, who become pawns of the Grey King and are accused of sheep killing by the villainous farmer Caradog Prichard—which occasions most of the suspense. In the whole epic tug of war between Good and Evil, Cafall's death is the first loss worth tears and it makes us care deeply about his loyal, grieving owner, Bran. . . who turns out to be the son of Guinevere and King Arthur, but that's another matter. The Welsh-accented spells, the gray, spirit foxes who come out of the hills to prey, the climactic battle of enchantments between the swans and cormorants commanded by Will and the seething fish controlled by the Grey King must stir even the most sluggish imagination. Yet Will's special status as an Old One—his ability to summon a new, previously unheard of spell or power at each crisis—tends to lull the reader into passivity; there's something alienating about not knowing the rules ahead of time. Although the imagery here is somewhat more familiar and less eerie, this is every bit as grandly orchestrated as Green-witch (1974). Cooper is clearly building towards a thumping conclusion in the fifth and next volume and even those of us who have doubts about the significance of all this thunderous moral absolutism will want to get in on the action.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1975

ISBN: 1416949674

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1975

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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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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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