A detailed series entry that lives up to its predecessor.

TRAJELON

An epic-fantasy sequel in which an elven woman strives to protect her people.

Loralíenasa “Loríen” Raia has been preparing to take the elven throne of Evlédíen. If that wasn’t stressful enough, she’s also playing host to an unusual number of human dignitaries. She knows that not all humans are monsters, as she’d thought for most of her life, but it’s hard for her to simply ignore her fear of them, as humans did wipe out most of her people years earlier. It doesn’t help that her guardian, Tomanasíl Maiantar, the Lord Regent of Evlédíen, doesn’t trust or even like them—although he supports her decision to discuss peace with them. Loríen hopes that her friend Naoise Raynesley has been safe since they parted ways, and that he’s succeeded in his quest. But the world of Asrellion, of which Evlédíen is a part, is still not safe, and there’s something strange and hidden going on in her own small corner of it; there are spies in the court, emotional and political manipulations, as well as a case of someone suffering amnesia. If Loríen can’t solve the mysteries and problems facing her, she might lose everything that she and her people have worked so hard for. Bethancourt presents a novel that’s on par with the previous installment, Mornnovin (2019). The worldbuilding remains the star of the show, offering superb cultural details, including the traditional requirements and ceremony that Loríen goes through before and during her coronation. The author’s stylish prose will ease readers into the story, and the precise pacing will consistently keep them engaged. The cast of characters includes some who are easy to love as well as villains that aren’t always initially easy to identify. Fans of epic fantasy will find this series to be to their liking, although they would do well to read the series’ premiere installment first, if they haven’t already.

A detailed series entry that lives up to its predecessor.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73364-803-5

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Dogwood House LLC

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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