A delightful entertainment, especially for readers versed in Chinese mythology or steeped in the films of Jet Li and company.

A BOND UNDONE

Second installment in popular Chinese writer Jin Yong’s immensely popular Legends of the Condor Heroes series (A Hero Born, 2019).

Louis Cha Leung-yung, pen name Jin Yong, died in 2018, having sold hundreds of millions of books in Chinese (and Korean and Vietnamese), all in the wuxia, or martial arts, tradition. Imagine Jackie Chan by way of Tolkien and you’ll have some sense of how the books work, their chapters peppered with improbably epic brawls among mythological figures with names such as Apothecary Huang, Hurricane Chen, and Cyclone Mei. This second volume finds hero Guo Jing and his beloved Lotus Huang battling their way across a countryside in which the bad guys seek the occult knowledge tucked away inside a martial arts manual whose devotees know all kinds of deadly kicks and punches. “You are a disciple of Twice Foul Dark Wind,” growls Tiger Peng the Outlaw by way of an introduction, and Lotus responds, “You promised to let me go if you couldn’t name the school of my kung fu within ten moves.” Ten moves should have been enough, especially since Lotus has already defeated the Three Horned Dragon and the Dragon King of the Daemon Sect, friends of Tiger Peng's. It’s not brawn but brains that get Lotus out of that particular pickle. Meanwhile, Guo Jing, who, having grown up among Mongol raiders and who thus “could tell the size of a herd by ear,” has plenty of adventures of his own, including falling into the company of a “sworn brother” who invites him to join him for some merry martial combat in the underworld; resisting the siren song of a magical death-dealing ditty; and embarking on a journey upon the “boundless sea” without telling Lotus of his itinerary—all grist for the next volume. On that score, fans of the series should rejoice that more books await, though their publication will reportedly be spread over a number of years, requiring plenty of patience.

A delightful entertainment, especially for readers versed in Chinese mythology or steeped in the films of Jet Li and company.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25011-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 75

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

Did you like this book?

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more