THE PENITENT

From the The Immortality Wars series , Vol. 2

Engaging characters star in this measured tale of spirituality.

A teenager confronts adversaries with her newfound divine power in this second installment of a fantasy trilogy.

Matthew Greatworth, a hermit living in the Western Isles, comes across an abandoned infant on a rural road. Seeing the child’s brutally murdered parents lying in a lane, he informally adopts her, names her Evangel, and brings her back to his forest home, The Refuge. When Evangel is still young, the hermit learns that God shows her things in her dreams. Apparent proof of this is her response when bandits abduct Matthew for the riches they believe he has. In saving her guardian, Evangel displays a “divine power,” which everyone, including the outlaws, sees as a miracle. Further miraculous events ensue after a friend at The Refuge disappears, and a search party can only hope to find him alive. Later, Matthew, Evangel, and some comrades visit a nearby priory, where they don’t exactly receive a warm welcome. Much more affable is a group of traveling knights who also stop by. Sadly, one of the priory’s sisters, evidently vexed by the knights’ kindness toward Matthew and Evangel, reacts in an unexpectedly ruthless manner. Carreiro’s sequel is deliberately paced. The author’s descriptive passages often linger on the environment, as with Evangel in a garden: “Birds flitted among the trees. A wide variety of hummingbirds zipped by her head and chased after one another in competition for nectar and dominance over the other.” There are instances of violence in the story, which has more than one scene of torture. But a sweeping theme of forgiveness shines brightly while the seemingly indestructible bond between Matthew and Evangel remains endearing. An extended dream/vision sequence at the end deftly ties this book to the preceding series installment and sets the stage for the trilogy’s conclusion.

Engaging characters star in this measured tale of spirituality. (maps, acknowledgements, character list, author bio)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-950339-27-3

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2021

TRESS OF THE EMERALD SEA

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

A fantasy adventure with a sometimes-biting wit.

Tress is an ordinary girl with no thirst to see the world. Charlie is the son of the local duke, but he likes stories more than fencing. When the duke realizes the two teenagers are falling in love, he takes Charlie away to find a suitable wife—and returns with a different young man as his heir. Charlie, meanwhile, has been captured by the mysterious Sorceress who rules the Midnight Sea, which leaves Tress with no choice but to go rescue him. To do that, she’ll have to get off the barren island she’s forbidden to leave, cross the dangerous Verdant Sea, the even more dangerous Crimson Sea, and the totally deadly Midnight Sea, and somehow defeat the unbeatable Sorceress. The seas on Tress’ world are dangerous because they’re not made of water—they’re made of colorful spores that pour down from the world’s 12 stationary moons. Verdant spores explode into fast-growing vines if they get wet, which means inhaling them can be deadly. Crimson and midnight spores are worse. Ships protected by spore-killing silver sail these seas, and it’s Tress’ quest to find a ship and somehow persuade its crew to carry her to a place no ships want to go, to rescue a person nobody cares about but her. Luckily, Tress is kindhearted, resourceful, and curious—which also makes her an appealing heroine. Along her journey, Tress encounters a talking rat, a crew of reluctant pirates, and plenty of danger. Her story is narrated by an unusual cabin boy with a sharp wit. (About one duke, he says, “He’d apparently been quite heroic during those wars; you could tell because a great number of his troops had died, while he lived.”) The overall effect is not unlike The Princess Bride, which Sanderson cites as an inspiration.

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781250899651

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

THE POSTCARD

The anguish and horror of genocide arrive with fresh impact in an absorbing personal account.

A Jewish family’s experience across multiple generations, researched by a mother and daughter, shines a spotlight on French antisemitism, both historic and contemporary.

The arrival in 2003 of an unsigned postcard, delivered to her mother Lélia’s postbox in Paris, bearing the names of four family ancestors murdered at Auschwitz, forces Anne Berest properly to consider her Jewish heritage. The result is this autofiction sharing the tragic saga of one branch of her forbears, the Rabinovitches, seeking peace and a safe home in the shifting European landscape of the 20th century. Lélia, who has methodically pieced together the story of her grandparents, now shares it with Anne, starting with Ephraïm and Emma’s marriage in Moscow and the birth of their first child, Myriam, Lélia’s mother, who will be the sole survivor. Two more children, Noémie and Jacques, are born, while the Rabinovitches move, for political reasons, to Latvia, then France. But Ephraïm fails to secure French citizenship for the family, and, as their lives become increasingly circumscribed after the German occupation, first Noémie and Jacques and then the parents are arrested, imprisoned, and slaughtered. Berest’s descriptions of captivity are notably horrific. Years later, as Anne’s child reports antisemitism at school, Anne remembers the postcard and begins a quest to find its author. Now the narrative switches from historical record to detection, involving a private eye and a graphologist, before turning more introspective as it traces Myriam’s experience. Having escaped into the French free zone with her husband, she settles in a remote Provencal cottage, then comes back to Paris and joins the Resistance. As the war ends, she witnesses the return of skeletal survivors from Germany. The story overall is poignant, tense, restless, and ultimately pivotal, as Anne not only solves her mystery, but, more importantly, gains her identity.

The anguish and horror of genocide arrive with fresh impact in an absorbing personal account.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781609458386

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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