A solid YA fantasy with moments of brilliance.

The Seven Year King

Hamilton (The Torn Wing, 2012, etc.) revisits the fantasy world of Faerie in the third book of her young-adult series.

Tiki, a 16-year-old former pickpocket, must accept her newly discovered destiny as the Seelie queen and become the leader of a world she doesn’t understand—and, quite frankly, doesn’t really want to rule. Her heart is back in London with her cobbled-together family of former street orphans, but now the entire future of Faerie is resting on her shoulders. When she discovers that a dear friend, Dain, has been kidnapped by the Unseelie king to be tortured and sacrificed, she and her lover, Rieker, must brave the secrets and dangers of Faerie to save him. At the same time, she tries to manage her duties as queen and spar with Larkin, a faerie with a suspicious agenda. Tiki and Rieker go deep into the nefarious politics of the Otherworld, but their creativity and bravery save the day. Despite Tiki’s courage in her quest to find her missing friend, her constant need for Rieker’s reassurance makes her appear somewhat weak and insecure. The novel’s suspense and action keep things moving, but its extensive reliance on back story sacrifices some of its intensity while providing very little character development. Tiki becomes more invested in her role as queen by the end of the story, but readers may find her evolution is too linear and one-dimensional. However, Hamilton’s layered, complex worldbuilding creates a marvelous landscape of both London and the Otherworld. The fantasy world’s lore is intriguing and well-conveyed, making it easy for readers to navigate as the story progresses. Hamilton’s prose also contains moments of pure, poetic beauty that ensnare the reader with their magic: “It’s like time is fractured….As if one foot is in the past, when this building was alive and full of people—and one foot in the future, left with only the memory of what has been.”

A solid YA fantasy with moments of brilliance.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481247450

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gaslamp Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2013

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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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