Despite strong prose, this fantasy tale is ultimately undone by its overly familiar plot and distractingly peculiar names.

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In Siege of Daylight

BOOK ONE IN THE COMPENDIUM OF LIGHT, DARK & SHADOW

In Close’s debut novel, the first in a new epic fantasy series, a young apprentice to the king’s bard suddenly finds himself going to the royal court with his master due to a number of strange occurrences.

After Calvraign’s father died saving the king’s life, King Guillaume gave his rescuer’s son the honor of being trained by his bard, Brohan. For years, Brohan taught him stories of chivalry and prophecy and trained him in battle strategy and politics, preparing him for adulthood at court. Soon after dark forces begin to rise in the kingdom, Brohan brings Calvraign—at his mother’s behest—to the king, and they’re followed by Callagh, a feisty young huntress whose fierce skills are matched only by her love for Calvraign. Over the course of the novel, Close weaves an epic tale involving a huge cast of characters, including other knights, villains and supernatural creatures, cutting among various points of view in a manner reminiscent of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Eventually, revelations also transpire that reveal just why this boy’s well-being has been so important to Guillaume. Close’s greatest strength is his prose, which brings this world to life with a literary sensibility that stands out in a sea of standard, boilerplate fantasy novels. If only the plot were as impressive as the words that detail it. Despite the often beautiful writing, the story struggles to distinguish itself from other tales in the genre. Furthermore, Close has decided to populate his novel with names for characters, mystical creatures and places that are needlessly complex—Dwynleigsh, Feylobhar, Lyaeyni Meimniyl, Ryaleyr, Raogmyztsanogg, T’nkh’t’chk, Qal Jir’aatu, etc. As the list of unpronounceable names grows, it often prevents readers from emotionally engaging with the story.

Despite strong prose, this fantasy tale is ultimately undone by its overly familiar plot and distractingly peculiar names.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988852013

Page Count: 618

Publisher: Gregory S. Close

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2013

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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