An extra treat for invested Bardugo fans.

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THE LIVES OF SAINTS

A folkloric collection of stories about saints from the Grishaverse.

In no particular order, Bardugo presents 28 short and fantastical, fictional saint stories. Some read like origin stories, explaining why that saint is celebrated and for whom they are a patron. For example, Sankta Anastasia is named patron saint of the sick after saving her village from a plague by allowing the ill to drink her blood, which contained healing properties. Other stories, such as those of Sankt Valentin and Sankta Alina of the Fold, are specific accounts, with saints’ offering glimpses into their influence and power over people’s lives. The journey to sainthood for these colorful characters ranges from unjustly tragic (Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses was executed by quartering when she had no answers for a frustrated general), to humorously improbable (Sankt Lukin the Logical, patron saint of politicians, offers advice even after being beheaded). Presented without much context, these tales will primarily appeal to those already familiar with the Grisha series. The final entry, though, about the unnamed Saint of the Book, who cryptically advocates for these stories, may entice readers to fully enter the Grishaverse. Zollinger, an artist experienced in painting biblical and historical imagery, provides artistic dimension to these supplemental folktales with enchanting, full-color illustrations that evoke medieval books of hours. Ethnic diversity in the saints is implied by the artwork.

An extra treat for invested Bardugo fans. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76520-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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

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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