A hyperdetailed addition to the sci-fi genre.

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BENEATH THE SURFACE

THE LOST BOY

In her debut, Grey Wolf delivers a highly detailed, densely populated sci-fi adventure.

In this first volume of her meticulously plotted Beneath the Surface saga, Grey Wolf describes a brutal future society in which humans’ ingenuity and survival instincts lead to devastating consequences. The expanding sun threatens to destroy the Earth in the 38th century, so humans set off in arklike spaceships for planets with ancient Greek and Norse names (Freya, Titan, and so on). Such a mass exodus should provide an opportunity for nations to reimagine and improve their societies—but instead they engage in bloody wars, racism and enduring animosity as they grab for resources. Grey Wolf moves from a broad description of this fictional universe to focus on the story of Erren Archer, a boy born on a spaceship bound for the planet Midgard, and his older brother Sean, both of whom have telepathic powers. When the boys are separated, they must use their survival skills and unique powers to reunite. Grey Wolf’s worldbuilding is so complete that she includes an extensive index of calendars (such as “Freya’s Tertiary Sub-Year” and “Days of the Week: A Brief History”), geographical and technological maps, an appendix of abbreviations and explanations of spiritual systems; the book even provides intermittent original poetry that strives for literary gravity. The writing style tends to tell more often than show, but readers more interested in plot and setting will likely forgive occasional stiff dialogue and sketchily drawn characters. At more than 600 pages, readers may find this initial installment hard going at times, but Grey Wolf’s universe is simply too wide-ranging for anything less.

A hyperdetailed addition to the sci-fi genre.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480200456

Page Count: 622

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2012

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A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths.

THE BURNING GOD

In the final installment of the Poppy War trilogy, a warrior shaman resolves to seize control of her homeland from enemies far and near, no matter the cost.

Having suffered severe losses and betrayals, Rin rallies the Southern Coalition in an effort to defeat the Mugenese troops still in Nikan, the president of the Nikara Republic, and the foreign menace of the Hesperians, with their almost unimaginably advanced technology. But a southern army is not enough, and Rin must also rely on the unpredictable powers of her wild god, the Phoenix, and form a risky alliance with the Trifecta that once ruled Nikan. Drawing heavily on 20th-century Chinese history, Kuang continues to explore familiar themes—including imperialism, racism, colorism, and the terrible and long-lasting effects of war—while deepening Rin’s portrayal, as Rin experiences moments of heartfelt sympathy and connection with others while also continually seeking power and succumbing over and over to her own hubris and paranoia. This installment dwells heavily on the devastating realities of war and the costs of leading a nation in crisis but does not sink into overly grotesque meditations—or perhaps we, along with Rin, have become desensitized and hardened. Ultimately, despite the epic scope of the plot, the novel hinges on the relationships between Rin and those closest to her: A nation may rise or fall and thousands may lose their homes or starve in the process, but their fate depends not on magic from the divine plane but on simple, fallible people.

A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths. (Map, Dramatis Personae)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266262-0

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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