Lyndall Clipstone. Holt, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-75339-7
Clipstone’s literal-leaning, overwhelmingly white fantasy debut runs the Gothic trope list aesthetically but founders under a looping compulsion for self-sacrifice. Foundling Violeta Graceling, 17, can see her younger brother Arien’s nightmares—shadows that claw her through his hands and draw their pious foster mother’s violence to burn death god The Lord Under out of him. But when regional lord Rowan—a beautiful, facially scarred 19-year-old who purportedly murdered his family—notices Arien’s power and spirits him to the cursed Lakesedge Estate, Violeta forces her way in, obsessed with protecting Arien. Rowan plans to use Arien’s magic to mend the Corruption that is poisoning Lakesedge and consuming him. But as dark visions stalk the halls, Violeta discovers that the estate’s secrets connect to the magic she traded away in a devil’s bargain years ago—and she might have to choose between her attraction to Rowan and mending him and Lakesedge both. Narrator Violeta’s controlling reflexes and an unsubtle blurring between desire and violence combine disturbingly with challenges repeatedly solved through self-harm, resulting in a linguistically lush fantasy of helplessness whose plotting frequently bends around emotion rather than developing its own ideas. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/29/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Children's
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