From the The Skystone Chronicles series , Vol. 1

An exciting fantasy adventure and a great start to a promising new series.

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A young man on a quest for vengeance gets more than he bargained for in this fantasy novel by Blake Penn and Raven Penn.

Three years ago, in the fantastical realm of Evgard, a 17-year-old magic-using “magi” called Asher lost his mother, Zerana, also a magi, when she was killed by the Mage Hunter called the Black Valkyrie. Asher’s father, Akayto, takes in teenage brother and sister Kai and Kari after their parents, who had been assisting an elite group of dangerous magi called the Knights of the Torch, disappear. Asher and Kai spend their days adventuring and thieving to accumulate enough money to move Akayto to a safer place. Their situation worsens when Mage Hunters show up at their front door looking for Asher after he and Kai get caught up in a heist gone wrong. Just as Asher fears he’s been found out, the Drekai—winged, horned, dragonlike people—invade. These strong and fearsome beings are seeking their precious dragon egg, which King Rodan of Drakfell (a “keepdom” within Evgard) has stolen. The Knights of the Torch assemble to find the dragon egg, which is incredibly rare and contains potent magic, before it falls into the hands of the Black Valkyrie, who is also pursuing the object. Asher chooses to join them on their quest, to stop the Black Valkyrie and exact his vengeance. Blake Penn and Raven Penn have crafted a complex world with an engaging cast of characters led by the dynamic and entertaining Asher (“I screamed in terror as I watched Whitestone Hall fade away. Once I was out of earshot and certain that no one would hear me, I cried out. ‘No! I’m too handsome to die!’ ”). His quest to avenge his mother is heartfelt, and he demonstrates great compassion and love for his friends and family. Side characters such as Kai, Kari, the Knights of the Torch, and others are equally fleshed out and support the story. The narrative is fast paced and skillfully interweaves the exposition with the plot and character development.

An exciting fantasy adventure and a great start to a promising new series.

Pub Date: March 6, 2023

ISBN: 9798987789520

Page Count: 487

Publisher: Good Lux Creative

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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