AETHERBOUND

A close-knit, endlessly cathartic gem.

In an oppressive science fiction world, a young woman discovers the meaning of family and autonomy.

The Stavenger Empire has the galaxy in a stronghold, forcing its citizens into tyrannical relationships that prioritize specific lineages and skill sets while dampening rebellion. Pendt Harland lives on a merchant ship tied to her family line: Only Harlands can control the ship, and further, only those with specific abilities. Pendt, having gene-sense (the power to magically sense and alter aspects of organic matter), is considered useless in her family’s strict hierarchy and so faces abuse and neglect until she comes of age and can be sent away to earn her keep outside the Family. When an opportunity to escape presents itself, Pendt leaves everything behind to start anew on a bustling space station. There, she meets twins Fisher and Ned, earnest boys also trapped in the churning machinery of the empire. Together, they might just find a way to loosen the holds that the society has on them all. With an emphasis on valuing chosen family, securing bodily autonomy, and challenging authoritarianism, this intimate, character-driven yarn brings stunning revelations in every chapter. With each mystery that reveals itself, the worldbuilding grows stronger, enveloping readers in a grounded universe that feels nearly tangible. A major character is trans; main characters are coded as White.

A close-knit, endlessly cathartic gem. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3185-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

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A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

RUTHLESS VOWS

From the Letters of Enchantment series , Vol. 2

The well-paced romantic tension is a highlight of this enjoyable duology closer.

Even a war driven by gods can’t sever communication between journalist lovers Iris and Roman in this steampunk-adjacent romantic adventure.

A prologue sets the scene: Dacre, a god strummed to sleep by magic in Divine Rivals (2023), will not slumber forever. His willingness to wage war to acquire more powerful magic leads him to lay waste to entire towns, and Inkridden Tribune journalist Iris Winnow and war correspondent Roman Kitt can no longer be assured the other is safe—or even still alive. In Iris’ world of cigarette smoke, copper pipes, and driving goggles, colleagues affectionately call each other by their last names, watch each other’s backs, and face danger on the front lines. Though Underling Correspondent Roman is traveling with Dacre’s army, he questions why he was healed of his grievous wounds, while at the same time, he gradually recovers memories of Iris and recalls that she was special to him. Their magically connected typewriters allow for the rediscovery of their love and for communicating potentially deadly information about the invasion of Hawk Shire. The story primarily unfolds from Iris’ and Roman’s viewpoints, and while the prose occasionally uses well-worn phrases, Anglophiles will particularly enjoy the worldbuilding, and returning readers will welcome appearances from Capt. Keegan Torres; her wife, Marisol; and Dacre’s archnemesis—and wife—the goddess Enva. Main characters present white.

The well-paced romantic tension is a highlight of this enjoyable duology closer. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781250857453

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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