An offbeat but underexplained fantasy-quest story.

THE BOOK OF MOON

AN LOÚR IHN G’ÉALACH

A highly illustrated, allegorical fantasy novel about loss and isolation.

It is time for a new Guardian in the realm. Elder Rā-alta has chosen her former friend, now a recluse farmer, F’ala to keep the chosen one safe until she is able to awaken into her role of Guardian. Now it is up to F’ala, used to being scorned for her unusual freckles, to raise the pale-skinned Mi’hal’ē and to keep her safe from those that will challenge her before she’s ready—even if that means keeping her from exploring the rest of the world and from knowing what, and who, she truly is. Mi’hal’ē looks and acts differently than anyone else she knows, and she just wants to find her own place in life. But because she’s forbidden to go past the nearby fields, there’s no way she’ll ever find out where she fits in. Mi’hal’ē must travel far further than she ever thought possible to discover the secrets of her past and her destiny. Quayle, the author of Look Left, Walk Green (2017), has created her own language to fit the world of her unusual fantasy-quest story, but it’s hard to get a true sense of place when so many of the words that characters use are inadequately explained. The author’s fine pen-and-ink illustrations will give readers a clearer idea of what the doglike humanoid characters look like, which is desperately needed; she also includes a pronunciation guide and a map. It’s clear that Quayle has put a lot of work into creating her wide-ranging and highly original world, but there’s a disconnect between the author and the audience; she writes as though readers already know everything about the fantastical setting. In a closing note, she reveals that her book is meant to be an allegory for mental illness and isolation, and she does strongly and clearly stress this theme throughout the book.

An offbeat but underexplained fantasy-quest story. (maps, pronunciation guide)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-56598-9

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Bowker

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2020

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Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

BLACK SUN

From the Between Earth and Sky series , Vol. 1

A powerful priest, an outcast seafarer, and a man born to be the vessel of a god come together in the first of Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky trilogy.

The winter solstice is coming, and the elite members of the sacred Sky Made clans in the city of Tova are preparing for a great celebration, led by Naranpa, the newly appointed Sun Priest. But unrest is brewing in Carrion Crow, one of the clans. Years ago, a previous Sun Priest feared heresy among the people of Carrion Crow and ordered his mighty Watchers to attack them, a terrible act that stripped the clan of its power for generations. Now, a secretive group of cultists within Carrion Crow believe that their god is coming back to seek vengeance against the Sun Priest, but Naranpa’s enemies are much closer than any resurrected god. Meanwhile, a young sailor named Xiala has been outcast from her home and spends much of her time drowning her sorrows in alcohol in the city of Cuecola. Xiala is Teek, a heritage that brings with it some mysterious magical abilities and deep knowledge of seafaring but often attracts suspicion and fear. A strange nobleman hires Xiala to sail a ship from Cuecola to Tova. Her cargo? A single passenger, Serapio, a strange young man with an affinity for crows and a score to settle with the Sun Priest. Roanhorse’s fantasy world based on pre-Columbian cultures is rich, detailed, and expertly constructed. Between the political complications in Tova, Serapio’s struggle with a great destiny he never asked for, and Xiala’s discovery of abilities she never knew she had, the pages turn themselves. A beautifully crafted setting with complex character dynamics and layers of political intrigue? Perfection.

Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3767-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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