This new-adult urban fantasy debut
sees an immortal with a secret help her long-lived clan stay one step ahead of
those hunting it.
On an island in the
swamps near Cocodrie, Louisiana, lives a clan called Nonagon. Among these eight
individuals—also known as the Others, who are “really hard to kill”—is Dalia.
She’s over two centuries old and has the power to enter a dreamscape called
Pool. For the last six years, she’s been trying to rescue a man named Titus,
whose spirit wanders the Dreaming in a childlike state while his body withers
away somewhere. To complicate matters, an “ancient and powerful caste” called
the Aion is hunting Nonagon. The group’s leader, Rourke, was betrayed by his
“prized mercenary,” the Angel of Death, back in the 18th century. Unbeknown to
her friends—including Fara, Lyvia, Emiel, and Marin—Dalia is the Angel of
Death. Though she now works to save souls, not destroy them, Dalia doesn’t
always succeed. In 1934, Rourke’s agent, the Chaser, caught up with the Others.
Dalia blames herself for the death of the Others’ friend Lupe. Dalia’s romantic
entanglement with the Aion Adalwolf haunts her as well. If Nonagon can find
Titus and become Decagon, they may be able to halt Rourke’s vengeance. The star
feature of Capes’ novel is an elaborate mythology that allows for great
flexibility as the chapters flow. The present-tense narrative sometimes
alternates with vignettes set in the past, which add texture, comedic and
otherwise, to the cast’s backstory. For example, in 1986, the Others took a
road trip to Atlanta because Lyvia wanted breast implants. The prose often
offers frothy descriptions, especially in the Dreaming (“The sixth dream
arrived through the basin as a symphony of haughty exaltations. They fizzled
upward from the bubbling water as though it were a witch’s cauldron that undulated and
crackled, producing hushed, urgent words”). The adroit worldbuilding includes the idea that
only moonblood weapons—blades and bullets coated in menstrual blood—can kill
the Chaser. There’s also a slow-burning eroticism in this series opener, which
fans will surely crave to see more of in the planned sequel. Still, readers
will need to be patient while the immortals play cat-and-mouse.
A sumptuous atmosphere and skillful
worldbuilding carry this fantasy.
Individuals “infected” with
superpowers fight to stop their cohorts from kidnapping children in this debut
For Grace Song, a high school senior
in Arcadian City in the United States, a simple act of kindness changes her
life. She intercedes when three dogs corner a cat only to suffer a canine
assault, though she’s relatively unharmed. Grace takes in the cat, Deidre, who
later bites her hand. This leads to an infection in which visible tendrils
appear on Grace’s skin. And with that comes potent abilities, like easily
tearing things apart, namely people. Meanwhile, 20-something Ethan Kaiser
belongs to Arcadian City’s most influential family. Though he winds up framed
for murder, his life ultimately intersects with Grace’s. By this time, Grace is
a part of the Covenant Corporation with others also sporting superpowers,
called Ultras. Some of the Ultras view themselves as superior to the rest of
humanity. But Grace does not, nor does she abide by the Covenant’s plan to abduct
gifted children for recruitment and immediate placement in the field. She finds
an ally in Ethan, who develops abilities of his own, and the two plan to take
down the enigmatic Kane, who seemingly masterminded the kidnapping plot.
Although this supernatural series opener features solid action scenes, they’re
primarily reserved for the novel’s latter half. Nevertheless, Eberhart aptly
establishes characters in the slower Part 1, from Grace’s friend (and possibly
more) Aryan Heather Skarsgarde to the Kaisers, particularly Ethan’s physician
sister, Emily. While Grace, whose mother abuses her, is sympathetic, Ethan is
decidedly less likable, as he’s unabashedly sexist. Still, the eventual
confrontations between superpowered individuals are entertaining even if
readers have already seen these abilities before, including flying, freezing
objects, and transforming into a werewolf. The author truly amps up the action
with strange but indelible onomatopoeia, such as “BURRRRP!” to signify a siren
and “POCK!” for a variety of sounds, including a disengaging lock, a slap or
punch, and suppressed gunshots.
An appealing supernatural series
opener with rousing action scenes and sharp characterizations.
A man finds himself in a baffling, dreamlike world of gods, archangels, and dragons in the first installment of Kildare’s fantasy series.
Cillian Rysgaard is hardly surprised by his physician’s diagnosis of dementia. But when the 86-year-old leaves the doctor’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, he seems to enter an entirely new world and to have a shockingly younger body. He initially encounters people who apparently know him, calling him a “champion” and speaking in various tongues like Gaelic and Latin. Certain that he’s dreaming, he accepts a mission from a wizened man who holds the ancient Roman title of “Imperator”; Cillian must slay a dragon, which first requires stealing a powerful, ancient sword. Unfortunately, Loki, the god of chaos, tricks Cillian into freeing him from captivity. A group of archangels (the seven remaining after wars in heaven) find Cillian and enlist his help in recapturing Loki, who has somehow “chosen” him. Accordingly, Cillian will be a spy for the archangels and try to learn Loki’s mysterious intentions. Nevertheless, as he continually awakens in strange places, Cillian still believes that what’s happening to him is occurring in a dream. But in a world of deadly creatures, a rampaging troll army, and an impending war, he may be better off acting as if his life is in genuine peril. Kildare jam-packs this opening installment with characters and exposition on topics from heavenly wars to Cillian’s childhood. Cillian is a savvy, sympathetic protagonist, a multilingual professor who misses his late wife. And while some of the abundant menaces are oft-discussed villains who don’t show up, it’s clear that the human race may be in danger. The author fills the pages with environmental details in a mostly sober narrative, save a charming Loki who makes a mean margarita. However, so much unfolds, especially with Cillian repeatedly waking up in new locations, that readers are likely to be as confused as the protagonist typically is. They may have to look for answers in sequels.
Creative and diverting; a massive amount of story, perhaps too much, for an opening volume.