A rousing fantasy sequel that allows the story to evolve while setting the stage for the final volume.



From the Three Roses Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In this second installment of a trilogy, a mage apprentice and an ex-thief protect a special stranger while trying to dodge a vengeance-minded assassin.

Kane Bailey was once a nobleman and mage apprentice in the kingdom of Consaria. But the teenager became a fugitive after inciting King Hugo’s wrath by telling a clan leader, who was threatening Kane, about the enigmatic Three Roses. At the time, Kane didn’t know what the Roses were, only that the king was searching for them. Now he believes he’s found one of the three: simple-minded Jonas, who sports a rose tattoo. Kane’s belief is solidified when the apparently psychic Jonas warns Callie, a former thief Kane has befriended, that the mage apprentice will soon die. Callie intervenes, and Kane narrowly avoids a tragedy that leaves many others dead. The two, along with Jonas, later team up with sorcerer Master Cypher, who was Kane’s tutor back in Consaria. While fugitive Kane changes his name to Sean McAlister, the group gets assistance from Cypher’s acquaintance Count Guyver. Cypher also enlists Sean to ensure Jonas receives safe passage to the city of Asturia, though the sorcerer never confirms that the man is one of the Roses. Sean and Callie adjust to their new lives, he as an apprentice to another mage, she as Guyver’s retainer. But proficient assassin Rainer wants revenge against Callie, who once bested him in combat. He begins killing innocents in Asturia and makes it abundantly clear that Callie is his primary target. This stirring novel, picking up right where the fantasy series’ first installment left off, continues the titular arc while giving the characters plenty of room to grow. For example, Sean and Callie’s relationship gradually deepens and even entails possible romantic obstacles, such as “ruggedly handsome” Sir Barnes’ catching Callie’s eye. Moreover, Sean and Callie act as parental figures to Jonas, whom the narrative equates with a “preteen” who’s prone to complaints of boredom. There’s likewise progression regarding the Three Roses; readers will have more than an inkling as to their meaning before the book ends, and the explanation is both intriguing and unpredictable. In addition, certain subplots, such as a ballroom dance and a surprise poisoning, have discernible ties to the main plot and characters. Hubbard (The Legend of the Three Roses, 2017, etc.) deftly outfits his tale with appearances or references to various creatures both recognizable (unicorns and giant golems) and less so (undines, which are elementals with mastery over water). While the author implies much of the physical violence, the story is still generally dark. Rainer steadily becomes more relentless and intimidating, and he’s the reason Sean suffers a few losses. Nevertheless, dry humor occasionally alleviates the somberness. This often comes courtesy of Callie, who suggests Sean use his magic by commenting, “Can’t you just wiggle your fingers and make stuff happen?” And when Sean’s new master doesn’t seem interested in adequately training him, Callie offers to “pound some sense into him.”

A rousing fantasy sequel that allows the story to evolve while setting the stage for the final volume.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2018


Page Count: 404

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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