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These hollow vows
2021
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Publishers Weekly Review
Ivory-skinned Abriella Kincaid, 17, refuses to consort with faeries, as her mother ran off with one nine years ago, forcing Abriella and her sister Jasalyn, 14, into indentured servitude. When the teens' contract-holder sells Jas to sadistic Unseelie ruler King Mordeus, though, Brie vows to do whatever it takes to save her. Golden-skinned Seelie prince Ronan reportedly wants to marry a mortal, so Brie enters the faerie realm posing as a potential bride; she knows there's an inter-court portal and hopes to use it to liberate Jas. But Mordeus foils her rescue, and demands that Brie steal items from the Seelie palace in exchange for Jas's freedom. Brie has no qualms about double-crossing Ronan, and teams with light brown--skinned Unseelie rebel Finn to plan her heist. Then she learns that Ronan has been for two years living as a human--one for whom she has feelings. Romance author Ryan's YA fantasy debut offsets florid prose and familiar tropes with tight plotting, efficient worldbuilding, and escalating stakes. Tension stemming from a swoon-worthy love triangle drives the tale when the action ebbs, and the denouement hints at a sequel. Ages 14--up. Agent: Dan Mandel, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (July)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--Brie, a white 17-year-old human, relies on the shadows to survive, thieving in the dark from rich merchants who trade humans to the untrustworthy fae. When her younger sister is sold to the Unseelie king, Brie doesn't hesitate in making a deal to free her by stealing from the rival Seelie queen. Infiltrating the Seelie court by posing as a potential bride for their golden-skinned crown prince is complicated first when Brie falls for him, and again when an enigmatic Unseelie with light brown skin and a diverse band of outlaws offers his help. Juggling loyalty to and romantic feelings for both Prince Ronan and Finn, Brie soon discovers that she isn't the only one with a secret agenda in a realm more nuanced than she originally believed. Engaging writing and worldbuilding help balance the uneven pacing and familiar tropes, while unexpected betrayals and a darker romantic tone lend to a faster second half. A cliffhanger ending sets up a compelling hook and chance at meaningful character growth for Brie in the sequel. VERDICT A readable faerie court fantasy that centers the love triangle over the action quest. Readers will see similarities to Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses and Kiera Cass's The Selection.--Madeline Newquist, Center for Fiction, Brooklyn, NY
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