Brimming with well-defined details and characters; augmented by bountiful enthusiasm and spirit.

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EVE OF SNOWS

SUNDERING THE GODS BOOK ONE

In Rice’s fantasy series launch, an island ruled by seven clans faces body-possessing demons and a threat of a Holy War.

Eliles is a postulant at Istinjoln Monastery on the island of Kaludor. She’s spent years keeping mum about her feral magic (an ability to generate fire); the Church would likely deem it a defilement and torture her to death. She plans to leave the monastery but first learns one of her friends has been killed by the Colok, big, bearlike creatures. Oddly, high priest Woxlin is fascinated by a scroll strapped to the victim. When Eliles manages to get eyes on the scroll’s message, she realizes that some in Kaludor are worried about beings called the Shadows. Ivin Choerkin of the Choerkin clan, meanwhile, checks on a cave-in at the clan’s Ihomjo mines, which left miners trapped. He finds signs of a Colok attack but also evidence of Shadows from the Stone, noncorporeal demons that possess humans. As Eliles, Ivin, and others soon learn, the Shadows are a part of a much bigger plan—all someone’s bid for power. The plan ultimately puts everyone in danger of a potential Holy War, which would surely leave the island in ruins. Though the novel is dense in plot and characters, debut novelist Rice maintains a surprisingly sharp focus. An unhurried pace, for example, allows for clearly defined characters, despite their abundance. The narrative likewise zeros in on recent events, while the Great Forgetting keeps the larger backstory murky (gods stole mortals’ memories of the past). Rich descriptions assume medieval attributes: “A drawbridge of oaken planks stretched across a twenty-foot chasm, leading into a gatehouse with three iron portcullises and murder holes above.” The final act boosts the action, introduces menaces, and involves a few shocking revelations. The tale moreover has a definitive conclusion, while making it clear that further volumes await.

Brimming with well-defined details and characters; augmented by bountiful enthusiasm and spirit.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 522

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2018

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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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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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