A strong finale to a dark, compelling series.

THE FAERIE QUEEN

BOOK FOUR OF THE FAERIE RING SERIES

The dramatic conclusion to the faerie fantasy series by Hamilton (The Seven Year King, 2013 etc.).

The story opens with the UnSeelie king closing in on his goal of destroying the Seelie people, including their reluctant queen Tara, who’s sequestered in London trying to reclaim her ordinary, human life. When Larkin, the Seelies’ de facto leader, threatens to kidnap a girl dear to Tara if she refuses to return and help defeat the UnSeelies, Tara decides she can no longer deny her destiny. The devastation she encounters upon her return galvanizes her, but she and her cohorts become distracted when they go on a rescue mission to save a prisoner. Afterward, Tara decides to abandon Faerie and return to her human life after all, despite the fact that the UnSeelie king continues to gain strength. It isn’t until he kidnaps one of Tara’s family members that she finally steps up, recruiting a richly drawn, intriguing cast of secondary characters to help, including her lover, his brother, and another, unexpected ally. Although Tara is the book’s namesake, her decision to abandon Faerie when her people are being tortured and killed makes her appear somewhat weak and selfish. Even when she returns for the final battle, she’s more concerned about her beloved friends than the fate of the world. Larkin is the story’s most compelling character, and her courage, sacrifice and bravery make her worth rooting for. Hamilton delivers vivid battle scenes in the lead-up to a brilliant, surprise ending. The prose is witty and rich throughout, offering a masterful vision of two intertwining worlds. The faerie lore is also intricate and well-developed. As the final book in the series, it wraps up many subplots from prior installments, although it sometimes provides insufficient back stories, which can make it difficult for readers who haven’t recently read the rest of the books. That said, it delivers clever plot twists that keep the suspense mounting and the pages turning.

A strong finale to a dark, compelling series.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1484936214

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Gaslamp Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A unique story of transcendent love.

LAYLA

An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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