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

THE ICE LION

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 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more