A well-written, imaginative tale of humans, aliens, and the choices they face.


Under extraterrestrial surveillance, the human race grapples with an ancient, deadly threat in this sci-fi novel.

In the year 2120, aliens called the Cephians arrive in Earth’s solar system. Representing a band of spacefaring species called the Plexus Mosaic, the Cephians are on a mission to evaluate whether humanity is ready to be admitted to the group and have access to its vast store of knowledge. But after 40 years of observation, the Cephians haven’t made a decision, and some people are starting to chafe under the scrutiny. Not astrobiologist Shana Savarino—one of her closest friends is a Cephian colleague who goes by the nom de terre Charles Darwin. Then a team of scientists studying an asteroid crater in the Yucatán discovers a mysterious artifact miles below the Earth’s surface. Awakened by subterranean nukes, the underground object stealthily studies humanity’s technology and psyche, eventually emerging in New York City in the terrifying form of a dragon; the resulting conflict will kill millions worldwide. The Cephians reveal that it’s an Archmage Sequencer, planted eons ago by a race of beings “beyond space, matter, and ordinary awareness.” Originally designed to protect Earth, not destroy it, the Sequencer was damaged by a long-ago galactic war—now, it’s fighting an internal battle between annihilating rage and the “indomitable bright point” of its true purpose. Humanity, too, must choose: between trust and xenophobia, between violence and empathy—and Shana, already able to find friendship across species, may be the only human who can tame the Sequencer and save the world. Sharcoff’s (Draconis, 2000) artfully crafted novel is both action-packed—full of epic battle sequences and the highest of stakes—and quietly philosophical, paralleling the “flaw” of the Sequencer with humanity’s own innate propensity for violence. His worldbuilding is often skillful, although culture and character receive less attention than technology (“With compact fusion pods and artificial intelligence,” the Global Defense Force “skycruiser in all its variety—including its top-dog cousin, the voidfighter—became the backbone of humanity’s military might”). But when he provides glimpses of the smaller picture, the details are intriguing enough that readers will likely want more—for instance, Shana’s “Mandarin skirt suit” and the Cephians’ nonhumanoid bodies, resembling giant leaves with “starfishy fingerlegs.”

A well-written, imaginative tale of humans, aliens, and the choices they face.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5320-3528-9

Page Count: 294

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

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
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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 charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.


Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet