From the The Relevation Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fresh and intriguing fantasy escapade.

In Lücke’s debut fantasy novel, a guilt-ridden young protagonist hunts for his grandmother’s murderer—and becomes enmeshed in a magical world in the midst of a rebellion.

Jean Anderson is murdered by a mysterious stranger wearing chain mail who then disappears. Her grandson, Tom Anderson, witnessed her death as a child; for the next 11 years, he ponders strange, written clues in a book she left him, learning the magical “Bookish” language to help decipher them. Then, Tom sees someone who looks like his grandmother “six times counting today. Her or her ghost. Always from a distance.” When another strange old woman gives him magical artifacts, “the eyes of lost souls,” he leaves the reality he knows and enters a realm called Enthilen, where he’s saved by Grin, a creature called a “stone-grell,” who becomes his fast friend. As Tom searches for his grandmother, whom he believes is still alive, he gets involved with the world’s Dobunni rebels, who seek freedom from the oppressive Erstürmen rulers. He’s soon pursued by Eroberung, a “tainted grell” working for exiled ruler Malphas, who’s scheming for power over Enthilen via complicated machinations behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Tom and Grin ride to the port city of Laodicea to confront Jean’s killer. Lücke effectively ends the novel on a sequel-ready cliffhanger as Grin aims to rescue Tom but finds himself outmaneuvered. Over the course of this book, the author introduces an array of memorable characters; indeed, there are so many different players that readers may find it difficult to keep track of them all. This has the effect of making the narrative feel overstuffed at times. The prose style is occasionally stilted, as well: “maybe he found greater joy in the willing acquiescence of affection than non-consensual conquest.” That said, many fantasy aficionados will still find themselves engrossed in the story from beginning to end.

A fresh and intriguing fantasy escapade.

Pub Date: July 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-648-82070-3

Page Count: 440

Publisher: With Distinction Consultants

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020



Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

A fantasy adventure with a sometimes-biting wit.

Tress is an ordinary girl with no thirst to see the world. Charlie is the son of the local duke, but he likes stories more than fencing. When the duke realizes the two teenagers are falling in love, he takes Charlie away to find a suitable wife—and returns with a different young man as his heir. Charlie, meanwhile, has been captured by the mysterious Sorceress who rules the Midnight Sea, which leaves Tress with no choice but to go rescue him. To do that, she’ll have to get off the barren island she’s forbidden to leave, cross the dangerous Verdant Sea, the even more dangerous Crimson Sea, and the totally deadly Midnight Sea, and somehow defeat the unbeatable Sorceress. The seas on Tress’ world are dangerous because they’re not made of water—they’re made of colorful spores that pour down from the world’s 12 stationary moons. Verdant spores explode into fast-growing vines if they get wet, which means inhaling them can be deadly. Crimson and midnight spores are worse. Ships protected by spore-killing silver sail these seas, and it’s Tress’ quest to find a ship and somehow persuade its crew to carry her to a place no ships want to go, to rescue a person nobody cares about but her. Luckily, Tress is kindhearted, resourceful, and curious—which also makes her an appealing heroine. Along her journey, Tress encounters a talking rat, a crew of reluctant pirates, and plenty of danger. Her story is narrated by an unusual cabin boy with a sharp wit. (About one duke, he says, “He’d apparently been quite heroic during those wars; you could tell because a great number of his troops had died, while he lived.”) The overall effect is not unlike The Princess Bride, which Sanderson cites as an inspiration.

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781250899651

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023


A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020