Category: Magic-users

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard


This is another dark YA dystopia, this one set in a bleak world divided into the Reds and Silvers, where the reds (who bleed red blood) are the underlass to the Silvers, who bleed silver blood and have special powers. When Mare, our heroine, a teen girl slated for conscription into the ongoing war, is swept abruptly in the Silver world, she suddenly has the potential to make extraordinary change.

This has wonderful world building, but the unrelenting grimness becomes oppressive well before the end of the book. That said, it still kept me frantically turning pages as the plot drove forward with some truly terrifying political intrigue. For 16 and up for violence.


Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo


A terrific heist novel, related only tangentially to Bardugo’s earlier trilogy. When a merchant wants to shut down a new drug that could literally change the world, he calls on the Dregs, a gang from the wrong side of town led by a scrappy and powerful 17-year-old named Kaz. As in any good heist story, Kaz assembles his idiosyncratic team of six, and as they proceed with their plan, we learn more about each of these teens and their traumatic childhoods. This is a twisty and intricate plot, and kudos to Bardugo for making each step in the plan as clear as she does.

In this as in Bardugo’s prior trilogy, her world-building has echos from Amsterdam, from Finland, and from Russia. There is no room for Anglo-centrists in this world. You will want to snap up the next book instantly – this is not a stand-alone. Recommended for 16 and up for violence and childhood trauma.

Queen of Shadows, by Sarah J. Maas


This fantastic fourth novel in the series feels like a conclusion because it wraps up so many threads dating to the first book. And it give me real hope for the final book in the series, because Maas is so thoughtful about the many wonderful details and closures she gives us here, as she positions her characters for their next steps.

The whole book ratchets up the tension, as Aelin returns to Rifthold to discover what happened in her absence, and to, perhaps, give the rebels a key focal point for the first time. Spectacular, for 16 and up.


Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas


Still rereading my way up to the newly released fifth book:

This third book of the series takes a very different tack, as Celaena leaves the castle for the first time to discover her heritage and, perhaps, claim her birthright. Challenged to fight in new ways by the Fae Rowan, she will re-learn all she knew. Terrific writing continues here – can’t wait for book four! For 16 and up due to violence and terror.

Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas


Reposting my earlier review as I am rereading the series to prep for Book 5.

A terrific follow-up to Throne of Glass, this book sweeps you in with its dynamic heroine and fantastic, in-depth world-building. As Celaena takes her rightful place in the despised King’s Court, her deepening relationships with two young men and her growing friendship with the visiting princess tie her ever more firmly to the kingdom’s fortunes and its mysteries. For 16 and up due to sex and violence.


Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas


Am rereading this series in preparation for the newly released fifth book, and it is well worth the reread. In the opening novel, our heroine Celaena, 18, is an acclaimed assassin condemned to hard labor in the salt mines. When the handsome Prince Dorian arrives to offer her a deal, she has no choice but to take it. And her arrival at the Glass Castle will lead the reader on a wild ride filled with fights and monsters and magic and ghosts and betrayal and romance. A pulse-pounding story for older teens, say, 16 and up.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling


NO SPOILERS. Wow, I have missed Rowling’s twisty mind. This wonderful play (in four acts) is more intricate than any return to Potter I could possibly imagine. It takes the established canon for the books and deepens it so that you won’t read the original novels the same way again. Simply lovely. We get to spend time with familiar characters (welcome and unwelcome), and we get to know wonderful new characters that I fell slowly in love with.

Without giving anything away, this play is just as plot-driven as the original books, and it’s steeped in the magic we expect from Rowling. As a theatre person, I had fun trying to figure out how the original production could have created some of the special effects required. I’d also like to say how wonderful it is for Rowling’s work to expose people to reading plays for pleasure. This one is a joy.

Wards of Faerie, by Terry Brooks


This fantasy is the first of a trilogy, but I found out, too late, that it is deep in an ongoing series. This makes it tough going early on, as you try to figure out who everyone is and learn about this firmly established world. But once all is established, the story leaps forward and doesn’t let go, focusing simultaneously on a quest for long-hidden magic and on the defense of a mostly-abandoned keep. There is a steampunk feel to the piece, with a medieval high-fantasy setting and airships flitting about.

Author Brooks has his world well in hand, and the POVs from multiple characters ring true. I’m hooked enough to keep going on this trilogy, and will consider starting from the beginning of this world’s series at a later date. For 16 and up, due to violence.