An intriguing debut in a well-drawn ancient setting populated with shallow leaders who care for either their people or their...

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CAVANILA'S CHOICES

A NOVEL OF THE MINOAN CATACLYSM

In Sisken’s debut novel, the first in a trilogy about the end of the Minoan Empire, a young priestess questions her gods in the face of the destruction of her island home.

Cavanila cannot stand by while the people in her home of Akrotiri, capital of the island Thera, suffer after an earthquake. As Sisken stresses, Cavanila’s priorities always align with the good of her people, often making her a character who is too noble and selfless to be true, especially as her decisions cause her to first disobey her priest/prince father, Rhadamantis, and later King Minos himself. But while the ruling men frequently chastise her for her independence, she is permitted to continue following the path she sets for herself, even after she begins questioning whether or not the gods she serves even exist. As the crisis on Thera grows worse—earthquakes are just the first sign that the volcano in the center of the island will soon explode—Cavanila takes on a more prominent role as a leader. Under her father’s command, she’s made the high priestess of the refugee settlement on the island of Nios. As refugees from Thera settle in the Minoan capital of Knossos, Minos believes that Cavanila—despite her unorthodox rules about allowing commoners to have a voice in their own governance—can help integrate the Therans with the Knossians. Sisken’s setting, filled with gods and rituals based on archaeological evidence from the long-vanished Minoan Empire, comes to life in the descriptions of the fire and flames that destroyed much of Thera in the 17th century B.C. But while the natural disaster and its relationship—or not—to the gods is the plot’s most interesting conceit, the story focuses primarily on the political machinations of Minos’ court as well as its fairly one-dimensional characters, including the cold, power-hungry high priestess Jenora and Cavanila’s noble and crown-loyal love interest, Bardok.

An intriguing debut in a well-drawn ancient setting populated with shallow leaders who care for either their people or their own power.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615940274

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Parthenos Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

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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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