From the author of Icefalcon’s Quest (1998), among others, a sequel to Dragonsbane. These are the further adventures of bespectacled, bookish dragon-slayer John Aversin, Thane of the Winterlands, and his wizardly wife, Jenny Waynest. When a dragon attacks the Winterlands, John must go alone to kill the creature, Jenny being preoccupied with subduing a powerful but untrained bandit wizard. But Ian, John’s 12-year-old mage-born son, follows his father, ready with his healing skills. Though John wounds the dragon, he is badly injured himself, but as Ian steps forward, a mysterious mage intervenes, enslaving the dragon by saving its life, and abducting Ian as John watches helplessly. Soon this mage, Caradoc, enslaves more dragons and wizards. After Jenny helps John recover, he floats off in a hot-air balloon to consult Morkeleb the Black, oldest and greatest of dragons. But Morkeleb, who loves Jenny and once transformed her into a dragon, isn’t interested—until the enslaved dragons and wizards, orchestrated by Caradoc, attack him. John, meanwhile, delving into ancient texts, learns that Caradoc has sold his soul to a demon; crucially, the souls of those Caradoc has enslaved are trapped within gemstones, not lost forever. Even with Morkeleb’s help, though, John and Jenny are no match for Caradoc’s demon-powered wizardry. Worse, when Jenny attempts to use her dragon-powers against demon-Caradoc, he drinks her magic and enslaves her too, forcing her to perform unspeakable acts while relishing her agony and revulsion. John, risking eternal torment, must get help from demons even more powerful than Caradoc’s masters, but he finds that his wizardly allies, the gnomes, refuse to help him fulfill his part of the bargain. Beautifully concise, adroitly plotted, inventive, and insightful: a wrenching affair that works its barbed pleasures ever deeper into the enthralled, horrified reader.

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-345-42187-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.


A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Yale’s secret societies hide a supernatural secret in this fantasy/murder mystery/school story.

Most Yale students get admitted through some combination of impressive academics, athletics, extracurriculars, family connections, and donations, or perhaps bribing the right coach. Not Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The protagonist of Bardugo’s (King of Scars, 2019, etc.) first novel for adults, a high school dropout and low-level drug dealer, Alex got in because she can see dead people. A Yale dean who's a member of Lethe, one of the college’s famously mysterious secret societies, offers Alex a free ride if she will use her spook-spotting abilities to help Lethe with its mission: overseeing the other secret societies’ occult rituals. In Bardugo’s universe, the “Ancient Eight” secret societies (Lethe is the eponymous Ninth House) are not just old boys’ breeding grounds for the CIA, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and so on, as they are in ours; they’re wielders of actual magic. Skull and Bones performs prognostications by borrowing patients from the local hospital, cutting them open, and examining their entrails. St. Elmo’s specializes in weather magic, useful for commodities traders; Aurelian, in unbreakable contracts; Manuscript goes in for glamours, or “illusions and lies,” helpful to politicians and movie stars alike. And all these rituals attract ghosts. It’s Alex’s job to keep the supernatural forces from embarrassing the magical elite by releasing chaos into the community (all while trying desperately to keep her grades up). “Dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway: Do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.” A townie’s murder sets in motion a taut plot full of drug deals, drunken assaults, corruption, and cover-ups. Loyalties stretch and snap. Under it all runs the deep, dark river of ambition and anxiety that at once powers and undermines the Yale experience. Alex may have more reason than most to feel like an imposter, but anyone who’s spent time around the golden children of the Ivy League will likely recognize her self-doubt.

With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31307-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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