Book Reviews · Teen

Review: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Three years ago, young Lord Cassia disappeared in the midst of war. Since then, a devastating illness has swept the land, leaving countless dead and a kingdom forever altered. Having survived war and plague, Cas, now eighteen, wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them. An assassin targets those closest to the queen, drawing Cas into a search for a killer. With the help of a historian-in-training named Lena, he soon realizes that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. Cas and Lena must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

In an empire on the brink of war... Ahn is no one, with no past and no family. Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child. When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her lethal magical abilities. But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Book Reviews · Science Fiction · Teen

Review: Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead. To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother's love. The adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, Vanja has long made her own way in the world as the dutiful servant of Princess Gisele. Until a year ago, when her otherworldly mothers demanded payment for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back . . . by stealing Gisele's life. With the help of an enchanted string of pearls, Vanja transformed into her former mistress and took her place, leaving the real Gisele a penniless nobody. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming the nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Until, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to turn into jewels, stone by stone. With a feral guardian half-god, Gisele's sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on her tail, Vanja has just two weeks to pull off her biggest grift yet, or she risks losing more than her freedom - she could lose her life.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar's throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities. Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that's what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: A Dark & Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell

Derry and her eight siblings live in an isolated house by the lake, separated from the rest of the world by an eerie and menacing forest. Frank, the man who raised them after their families abandoned them, says it’s for their own good. After all, the world isn’t safe for people with magic. And Derry feels safe—most of the time. Until the night her eldest sister disappears. Jane and Derry swore to each other that they’d never go into the forest, not after their last trip ended in blood, but Derry is sure she saw Jane walk into the trees. When another sibling goes missing and Frank’s true colors start to show, feeling safe is no longer an option. Derry will risk anything to protect the family she has left. Even if that means returning to the forest that has started calling to Derry in her missing siblings’ voices. As Derry spends more time amidst the trees, her magic grows more powerful . . . and so does the darkness inside her, the viciousness she wants to pretend doesn’t exist. But saving her siblings from the forest and from Frank might mean embracing the darkness. And that just might be the most dangerous thing of all.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Shiori'anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs in her veins. And on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother. A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The people of Ravka don't know what Nikolai Lantsov endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet each day a dark magic in him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary – and she will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne. Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha destroyed. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face her past to have any hope of defeating the dangers that await her.

Book Reviews · Fantasy · Teen

Book Review: The Dream and the Muse by Jake Burnett

When Madarena first meets the old rogue Apophax, she assumes she’s dreaming. After all, he wears a coat made of hedgehog quills, changes size at will, and treats the laws of physics as merely suggested guidelines. Very quickly, she learns she’s stepped into a world where dreams and reality intersect. Dangerously.