cover image Curses! Foiled Again

Curses! Foiled Again

Jane Yolen, illus. by Mike Cavallaro. Roaring Brook/First Second, $15.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-59643-619-0

Yolen’s smart, introspective, foil-wielding Aliera Carstairs returns, this time to thwart the Dark Lord’s plot to kidnap her beloved cousin. The Dark Lord wants the Defender’s weapon—that’s Aliera’s sword, the one with the hokey-looking jewel at the base that Aliera’s mother picked up at a tag sale. It’s this marriage of the mundane and the magical that gives this sequel to Foiled its most winning moments; Aliera has to squeeze her feats of derring-do in between high school math tests and fencing practice. Cavallaro uses a pallid gray-green palette for the New York City landscape in which Aliera lives her everyday life and rainbow colors for the magical beings that trail her. The story line has heart and intelligence, and Yolen successfully weds faerie lore to cinema-style plot twists; the only weak spot is the occasionally clunky dialogue: “You’ve watched too many cheap movies, Aliera,” her nemesis tells her. “You sound like every cheap villain in them,” is Aliera’s banal retort. Yet Aliera is such an engaging hero that fans will gladly overlook the deficit. Ages 11–up. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Joe Monti, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Jan.)■