A sweeping fusion of fantasy elements, boiled to perfection.

READ REVIEW

SUNRISE

PACT ARCANUM: BOOK TWO

Vampire mythology, music, magic and science fiction fuse in the second installment of Ahsanuddin’s (Sunset, 2011) Pact Arcanum series, a homoerotic tale of lust and power.

Sentinel Antonio Martinez is quick to realize he’s found three members of the Four Winds in Rory, Ana and Takeshi, the young musicians of the band Nightfall. Having rescued the longtime friends from two bloodthirsty predators, Martinez assists the trio in understanding their destiny and the bandmates, out celebrating the debut of their breakthrough album, soon find life has more to offer than mere concert dates. Beginning in the not-so-distant future of 2015 and continuing to 2039, the newly reborn musicians are soon embroiled in a world of Nightwalkers, Sentinels and the dark Court of Shadows. The novel’s science fiction elements, particularly the author’s use of House Lucian, House Jiao-long, off-world travel and other cosmic references, evoke Frank Herbert’s operatic Dune novels. Hierarchal themes may also ring familiar to adult readers of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, though Ahsanuddin brings a crisp edge to the telling. And, like Vampire Academy, the allure of forbidden romance plays an integral role in the development of the novel’s central characters, particularly in Rory’s love for Takeshi. Toss in the usual doses of Anne Rice’s homoerotic Vampire Chronicles and Stephanie Meyers virtuous Twilight series and you will find Ahsanuddin’s surprisingly provocative sophomore novel. The story’s main characters, like Rice’s vampire much hyped Lestat, are beautiful, eager musicians consumed by the eternal struggle of good and evil. Ahsanuddin melds the elements at his command with powerful literary alchemy. Eloquently written, the words more than the tale shape the romantic flow of this adult story as the members of Nightfall struggle to understand their gifts and the drama of their new lives. This prequel to Ahsanuddin’s first novel Sunset takes readers on an engaging trip into the dark underworld of desire and power—a foray written with sharp clarity and passion.

A sweeping fusion of fantasy elements, boiled to perfection.

Pub Date: April 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456358440

Page Count: 313

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more