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STORMSONG

A thoughtful and passionate depiction of one woman’s struggle to discover her truest self.

A young politician confronts affairs of state, the dark secrets of the past, considerable emotional turmoil, and the weather in this follow-up to the World Fantasy Award–winning Witchmark (2018).

The country of Aeland reels after the events of the previous volume, in which Dame Grace Hensley’s brother Miles discovered that the aether network (a magical equivalent of electricity) was being powered by the souls of the dead, the brutal war with neighboring Laneer was trumped up to grab Laneeri souls for the network, the Laneeri retaliated by possessing the returning Aelander soldiers and forcing them to murder innocents, and their father was complicit in most of it. The people are angry about the loss of aether, and they would be angrier still if they knew that many of the nobles were secret witches who thrust common witches into asylums to exploit their powers. As the country’s new Chancellor, Grace is supposed to calm the people, maintain the status quo, and mollify the Amaranthines, the faerylike psychopomps who condemn the aether network’s abuse of souls. As the Voice of the Invisibles, Grace must lead a cabal of unwilling mages to quell the worst storms that Aeland has seen in centuries. But she has no support from her scheming peers, and her imprisoned father, the former Chancellor and Voice, is clearly manipulating events behind the scenes. Grace would like to free the witches and finally be honest with Aeland’s people, but she fears it will cause mass riot. However, others are forcing her hand, including Miles’ friend Robin, a medical student and secret witch, and Avia Jessup, an astute and dangerously attractive former heiress–turned-reporter who’s nearing many explosive truths. Grace is an intriguing contrast with her brother Miles, protagonist of Witchmark, who has a much more black-and-white sense of morality. Grace was the designated heir to her father’s several types of power; and while she now despises him, freeing herself of his influence and ruthless love isn’t easy for her. She has good intentions toward the people of Aeland, but she has no idea about how the other half lives. She takes her comforts for granted even as she neglects her own desires in the service of others, exemplified by the narrative’s emphasis on the many meals she misses in the course of her duties.

A thoughtful and passionate depiction of one woman’s struggle to discover her truest self.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9899-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z(2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

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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