A final book that stays true to the spirit of the whole, sending readers out of Shaftal on a high note.

AIR LOGIC

The culminating chapter of Marks’ (Water Logic, 2007, etc.) acclaimed tetralogy finds Karis G’deon and her sprawling family once more imperiled, this time by the legacy of violence that threatens to unravel the fragile peace they have woven across their land.

Marks’ Elemental Logic series introduced readers to the realm of Shaftal, an intricately imagined land whose people operate within the boundaries of their basic natures—here defined as logics—which sometimes bequeath them with access to magical, elemental powers and sometimes embroil them in unsolvable internal conflicts. In the first book of the series, the invasion of the magic-hating Sainnites destroyed Shaftal’s government and exposed its people to subjugation and starvation under the cruel rule of the invaders. In true fantasy fashion, only Karis, a reluctant earth witch addicted to a deadly drug, and her band of equally unlikely allies can rise to rebuild the shattered legacy of Shaftal into a new world capable of sheltering Shaftali and Sainnite alike. The final book opens in what seems like the epilogue of their struggles. Karis has assumed the mantle of leadership, and her family—a polyamorous clan of friends, lovers, parents, and sparring partners—has joined their sometimes-querulous forces to work in unity toward the new governmental order. Peril follows them, however, as series favorites (Zanja, Karis’ wife and last member of a slaughtered border tribe; Emil, a scholar-warrior from old Shaftal; Medric, a Sainnite seer who knows more than he can say; Norina, a disagreeable air witch for whom both love and justice are swift and total) must do battle with a traitor from within their own home who threatens not only to undo all their efforts at peace, but also the bonds of their family. Invested in diversity, the Elemental Logic series as a whole represents characters who are neurodiverse, queer, ethnically and racially varied, and unaffected by gendered assumptions of societal roles. This final book goes one step further to champion the value of long, committed friendships as equal to, and sometimes even superior to, the passions of romantic love. Shaftal is a convincing world, lovingly detailed and fiercely envisioned. Marks' characters are so real in their depth of feeling that a reader unfamiliar with the convoluted interpersonal relationships established over the last three books can feel left behind. However, as the last note in a familiar melody, this book rings true.

A final book that stays true to the spirit of the whole, sending readers out of Shaftal on a high note.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61873-160-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Small Beer Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally...

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NINTH HOUSE

Yale’s secret societies hide a supernatural secret in this fantasy/murder mystery/school story.

Most Yale students get admitted through some combination of impressive academics, athletics, extracurriculars, family connections, and donations, or perhaps bribing the right coach. Not Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The protagonist of Bardugo’s (King of Scars, 2019, etc.) first novel for adults, a high school dropout and low-level drug dealer, Alex got in because she can see dead people. A Yale dean who's a member of Lethe, one of the college’s famously mysterious secret societies, offers Alex a free ride if she will use her spook-spotting abilities to help Lethe with its mission: overseeing the other secret societies’ occult rituals. In Bardugo’s universe, the “Ancient Eight” secret societies (Lethe is the eponymous Ninth House) are not just old boys’ breeding grounds for the CIA, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and so on, as they are in ours; they’re wielders of actual magic. Skull and Bones performs prognostications by borrowing patients from the local hospital, cutting them open, and examining their entrails. St. Elmo’s specializes in weather magic, useful for commodities traders; Aurelian, in unbreakable contracts; Manuscript goes in for glamours, or “illusions and lies,” helpful to politicians and movie stars alike. And all these rituals attract ghosts. It’s Alex’s job to keep the supernatural forces from embarrassing the magical elite by releasing chaos into the community (all while trying desperately to keep her grades up). “Dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway: Do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.” A townie’s murder sets in motion a taut plot full of drug deals, drunken assaults, corruption, and cover-ups. Loyalties stretch and snap. Under it all runs the deep, dark river of ambition and anxiety that at once powers and undermines the Yale experience. Alex may have more reason than most to feel like an imposter, but anyone who’s spent time around the golden children of the Ivy League will likely recognize her self-doubt.

With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31307-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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