Sympathetic yet flawed characters set against a complex society on the edge of change bring this novel to vibrant life.

Two young women fight for their freedom in the midst of political upheaval, threats of war, and suspicions about the magic they wield.

In the kingdom of Ramsawa, based on a fantastical Egypt, Nehal Darweesh is forced to agree to a marriage to help her family settle her father’s gambling debts. Nehal, however, will not go quietly and manages to convince her new husband, Niccolo Baldinotti, to allow her to enroll in the Alamaxa Academy of the Weaving Arts to study waterweaving. Nico is equally uninterested in the marriage, as he intended to marry Giorgina Shukry until his father learned she was of a lower status. Giorgina, meanwhile, unbeknownst to her family, has joined the Daughters of Izdihar, a group of women from all levels of society fighting for their rights—to a vote, to education, to a life not subservient to men. Soon, Nehal too becomes interested in the Daughters of Izdihar and is drawn to their charismatic leader, Malak Mamdouh. Power, however, is not so easily given up, and the Daughters of Izdihar face both scorn and violence. Meanwhile, factions within the government and outside of Ramsawa’s borders continue to view the magical ability to control an element, taught at the Alamaxa Academy, with suspicion and fear. As tensions threaten to boil over, Nehal and Giorgina must both come to an understanding of themselves, their places within society, and their powers both tangible and intangible before they can finally and decisively fight for their own freedom. Reminiscent of Tamora Pierce’s fantasies, but all grown up, with a focus on women, magic, and political schemes, this novel is cleareyed regarding social issues, timely, and above all, an engrossing fantasy.

Sympathetic yet flawed characters set against a complex society on the edge of change bring this novel to vibrant life.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-311474-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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