STARS, HIDE YOUR FIRE

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Cautious ninth grader Darra and her frustrated, antsy friend Andrea both feel trapped in their old factory town outside of Boston. Darra’s mom is pressuring her to study nonstop when all Darra wants is a break, while Andrea just can’t wait to move away. After exploring an old factory, Andrea meets a seductive, floating woman named Carmen who claims to be “a member of the fair folke.” Simultaneously, Darra meets a young man named Liam who tells her that he made a deal with Carmen to stay young forever, but he’s been trying to trap her and send her back through a fairy ring ever since he learned that she gets her magic through harming others. Liam recruits Darra to his cause, but she meets resistance from Andrea, who is thoroughly charmed by Carmen. Only when Carmen attacks Darra and Darra gets stuck in Carmen’s manipulation of time does Andrea band together with Liam to stop Carmen once and for all. Darra is hinted to be of Asian descent, and Andrea is racially ambiguous and implied to be queer—disappointing missed opportunities for explicit representation. Liam and Carmen present White. The dark, chalky color palette grates, with occasional high-contrast spreads that give the illustrations a pulpy feel but are ultimately jarring and unpleasant. The be-careful-what-you-wish-for messaging is muddled, Carmen’s villainy is too simple to be compelling, and both the characters and worldbuilding are generally underdeveloped.

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