A loose, beautiful tapestry of a tale that would be more satisfying if woven tighter.

Prehistoric young warrior Quiller must choose between helping her best friend, Lynx, survive his spirit quest in the glacial wilderness or saving her newly formed family from the Rust People.

When lions attack Lynx’s camp, leaving only him alive, Quiller must convince the Sealion People elders that Lynx is not a coward who abandoned his people—for which the punishment is death. Nightbreaker, the lions' giant and unusually intelligent pride leader, seems to have protected Lynx during the attack, so Quiller argues that he must be a spirit helper with a quest for Lynx. Maybe he’s even the mysterious old man who appeared during and after the attack, in a different form. Her ploy works, and the elders abandon Lynx on the Ice Giants, huge glaciers, to seek Nightbreaker’s guidance or die trying. Lynx has never been good at hunting or battle, so Quiller promises to defy the elders and help him. Before she can, she finds four children in an enemy village ravaged by disease and predators. After adopting the Rust People children, she must choose between finding Lynx or protecting her new family. Meanwhile, despite almost dying several times, Lynx finds the mysterious old man Dr. John Arakie. He shows Lynx there’s truth to the old stories about gods leaving Earth and disappearing underground when the ice came but needs Lynx to become part of the story for humanity to survive. Gear brings her vast knowledge of prehistoric cultures to this climate-fiction tale with beautiful and engaging worldbuilding. However, there are many seemingly contradictory and confusing details that may make it hard for readers to find their footing early on. Just enough hints and promises of revelation are doled out—often in exposition thinly disguised as “there’s an old story that says...”— to make readers hang on for answers. However, the big reveal after the slow and meandering buildup isn’t much of a surprise and only adds more unanswered questions—all to set up a sequel.

A loose, beautiful tapestry of a tale that would be more satisfying if woven tighter.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7564-1584-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: DAW/Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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