A crowded but visceral epic fantasy with plenty of political intrigue.

READ REVIEW

LORDS OF DECEPTION

AN EARTHPILLAR NOVEL

This debut novel sees a fragile peace imperiled by a cult of assassins.

In Wallevet Ministry, a territory of the Donovan Kingdom, Lord Minister Raymond Reimvick has been killed. This places the Empire Alliance—which keeps delicate peace between the Donovards and the Almerians to the north—at risk, because Raymond was the only one willing to negotiate for the treaty’s extension. The Donovard king, Erech Avaleau, is weak in mind and body. Many jockey for his throne, including his brother, Duke Brugarn. Fortunately, the loyal Maillard Valient, lord minister of Delavon Ministry, heads for Eglamour Palace to aid the king. In the palace, Princess Milisend learns to replace jewels with thimbles from her lover and master thief, Regaume. Her behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by Chief Magistrate Tronchet, who’s determined to catch her. Meanwhile, at the Perilune Academy, a cadet named Fetzer has failed to make squire yet again. Worse, he’s bullied by his classmates and mocked for keeping a journal. After going on a bloody rampage, he escapes Barres Ministry aboard the ship Meurden. He then meets members of the Order of the Candlestone. Led by the alchemist Arasemis, this secret group hopes to dissolve the kingdom using the arcane methods of the ancient tribe the Naren-Dra. Fuchs’ epic fantasy is a marathon of political maneuvers packed with assassins, deadly concoctions, and saber-rattling nation states. His penchant for using names like Rachard and Meriam summons a parallel medieval Europe. Readers, even fans of Game of Thrones, might gape at the volume of characters and territories in rotation. The focus inevitably falls on a handful of players, and the narrative thrill comes from the carefully plotted metamorphosis, for example, of young Arthan Valient as he goes from nobleman’s son to instrumental hero. With both feet primarily in the human realm, the author delivers his most fantastical creation: the Naren-Dra culture. The mountain natives use masks of “aglanrit wood…lined with gray gill ferns” to protect against the “alchemical mixtures” with which they dispatch their enemies. By the end of this series opener, the principal cast has undergone dramatic changes in anticipation of wider adventures.

A crowded but visceral epic fantasy with plenty of political intrigue.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946883-00-1

Page Count: 593

Publisher: Loremark Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more