Though the book is vastly overelaborate, the steady pace and intricately fascinating details are relentlessly gripping; fans...



From the The Licanius Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Second part of Islington’s doorstopper epic fantasy trilogy (The Shadow of What Was Lost, 2016), set in a world of the Gifted, whose magic lies in being able to tap into their own life force, and the Augurs, who wield a higher-order magic.

Islington supplies a "refresher" of the events of Book 1 that isn’t as helpful as you might suppose for reasons that will soon become clear. The laws that kept the Augurs and the Gifted constrained have been changed to allow them to defend Andarra against mysterious invaders. Three 16-year-olds who became friends at a school for the Gifted, Davian, Wirr, and Asha, now face different futures. Davian must learn to control his Augur powers and determine why the Boundary, put in place many years ago to keep out an invader called Aarkein Devaed, is weakening. Wirr, who, following his father’s death, is now Prince Torin the Northwarden, suspects that the story his father told him was false and must also deal with his interfering mother. By means of treachery, Asha’s Gifted powers have been suppressed, turning her into a Shadow; determined to find out how and why, she may discover more than she bargained for. Their friend Caeden has learned he’s an immortal; worse, he was once Aarkein Devaed but could not bear the crushing guilt and deleted his memories. Now he finds he needs them back; but is he really as evil as everybody says and he himself believes? With the narrative lacking the clear theme usually found in epic fantasy, the particulars assume critical importance; without them readers will be unable to decipher such magnificently gnomic passages as: "Andrael’s ridiculous weapon did its job and took my Reserve, so the Siphon is now bonded to Ashalia rather than me. If you want to seal the ilshara, she will need to find the final Tributary. The one that you set aside for Gassandrid, until he began to suspect and split himself."

Though the book is vastly overelaborate, the steady pace and intricately fascinating details are relentlessly gripping; fans of the first volume won’t be disappointed.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-27411-1

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be...


Some very nice, very smart African-Americans are plunged into netherworlds of malevolent sorcery in the waning days of Jim Crow—as if Jim Crow alone wasn’t enough of a curse to begin with.

In the northern U.S. of the mid-1950s, as depicted in this merrily macabre pastiche by Ruff (The Mirage, 2012, etc.), Driving While Black is an even more perilous proposition than it is now. Ask Atticus Turner, an African-American Korean War veteran and science-fiction buff, who is compelled to face an all-too-customary gauntlet of racist highway patrolmen and hostile white roadside hamlets en route from his South Side Chicago home to a remote Massachusetts village in search of his curmudgeonly father, Montrose, who was lured away by a young white “sharp dresser” driving a silver Cadillac with tinted windows. At least Atticus isn’t alone; his uncle George, who puts out annual editions of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, is splitting driving duties in his Packard station wagon “with inlaid birch trim and side paneling.” Also along for the ride is Atticus’ childhood friend Letitia Dandridge, another sci-fi fan, whose family lived in the same neighborhood as the Turners. It turns out this road trip is merely the beginning of a series of bizarre chimerical adventures ensnaring both the Turner and Dandridge clans in ancient rituals, arcane magical texts, alternate universes, and transmogrifying potions, all of which bears some resemblance to the supernatural visions of H.P. Lovecraft and other gothic dream makers of the past. Ruff’s ripping yarns often pile on contrivances and overextend the narratives in the grand manner of pulp storytelling, but the reinvented mythos here seems to have aroused in him a newfound empathy and engagement with his characters.

If nothing else, you have to giggle over how this novel’s namesake, who held vicious white supremacist opinions, must be doing triple axels in his grave at the way his imagination has been so impudently shaken and stirred.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-229206-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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

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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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