A total rush for manga fans seeking something off the beaten path.



From the Apple Black series , Vol. 2

Battles and intrigue ensue in this sequel.

Jumping in right where Volume 1 of this manga series dropped off, this latest entry shows that opposing factions are still vying for control of young Sano’s mysterious powers, encapsulated in his ebony arm known as Arodihs, the Arm of Merlin, God of Sorcery. There’s a new arrival: dark-skinned, pigtailed Opal Wantmore, a plucky girl with a curious pedigree who is seeking a lost tourist. A rebel faction plans to overtake Newgarth, the young sorcerers’ guild, and they have nefarious intentions for the fates of Sano and Arodihs that leave Black Bottom Island and the realm of Eden on the edge of ruin. Oguguo’s graphic fantasy ratchets up the intensity with frenzied fight scenes and high-octane action culminating in more teasers and burning questions for later installments. Presumably to flesh out subsequent entries, a bewildering number of characters are introduced (some literally dropped from the sky), but with its action-driven plot, this may be little more than a quibble. Included is a short glossary that helps to explain some of the intricacies of Sano’s world; hopefully this will be expanded in later volumes. Manga otaku should find much to enjoy in the diverse cast of characters and intricate plotting. The black-and-white illustrations depict main and secondary characters with both dark and light skin tones.

A total rush for manga fans seeking something off the beaten path. (Manga. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7603-7691-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Rockport Publishers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.


From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...


From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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