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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Entertaining, though not in the league of J.K. Rowling—or even Anne Rice. But please, people: no more vamps and wizards, OK?

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

From the All Souls Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Harry Potter meets Lestat de Lioncourt. Throw in a time machine, and you’ve got just about everything you need for a full-kit fantasy.

The protagonist is a witch. Her beau is a vampire. If you accept the argument that we’ve seen entirely too many of both kinds of characters in contemporary fiction, then you’re not alone. Yet, though Harkness seems to be arriving very late to a party that one hopes will soon break up, her debut novel has its merits; she writes well, for one thing, and, as a historian at the University of Southern California, she has a scholarly bent that plays out effectively here. Indeed, her tale opens in a library—and not just any library, but the Bodleian at Oxford, pride of England and the world. Diana Bishop is both tenured scholar and witch, and when her book-fetcher hauls up a medieval treatise on alchemy with “a faint, iridescent shimmer that seemed to be escaping from between the pages,” she knows what to do with it. Unfortunately, the library is crammed with other witches, some of malevolent intent, and Diana soon finds that books can be dangerous propositions. She’s a bit of a geek, and not shy of bragging, either, as when she trumpets the fact that she has “a prodigious, photographic memory” and could read and write before any of the other children of the coven could. Yet she blossoms, as befits a bodice-ripper no matter how learned, once neckbiter and renowned geneticist Matthew Clairmont enters the scene. He’s a smoothy, that one, “used to being the only active participant in a conversation,” smart and goal-oriented, and a valuable ally in the great mantomachy that follows—and besides, he’s a pretty good kisser, too. “It’s a vampire thing,” he modestly avers.

Entertaining, though not in the league of J.K. Rowling—or even Anne Rice. But please, people: no more vamps and wizards, OK?

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-02241-0

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

GIDEON THE NINTH

From the Locked Tomb Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This debut novel, the first of a projected trilogy, blends science fiction, fantasy, gothic chiller, and classic house-party mystery.

Gideon Nav, a foundling of mysterious antecedents, was not so much adopted as indentured by the Ninth House, a nearly extinct noble necromantic house. Trained to fight, she wants nothing more than to leave the place where everyone despises her and join the Cohort, the imperial military. But after her most recent escape attempt fails, she finally gets the opportunity to depart the planet. The heir and secret ruler of the Ninth House, the ruthless and prodigiously talented bone adept Harrowhark Nonagesimus, chooses Gideon to serve her as cavalier primary, a sworn bodyguard and aide de camp, when the undying Emperor summons Harrow to compete for a position as a Lyctor, an elite, near-immortal adviser. The decaying Canaan House on the planet of the absent Emperor holds dark secrets and deadly puzzles as well as a cheerfully enigmatic priest who provides only scant details about the nature of the competition...and at least one person dedicated to brutally slaughtering the competitors. Unsure of how to mix with the necromancers and cavaliers from the other Houses, Gideon must decide whom among them she can trust—and her doubts include her own necromancer, Harrow, whom she’s loathed since childhood. This intriguing genre stew works surprisingly well. The limited locations and narrow focus mean that the author doesn’t really have to explain how people not directly attached to a necromantic House or the military actually conduct daily life in the Empire; hopefully future installments will open up the author’s creative universe a bit more. The most interesting aspect of the novel turns out to be the prickly but intimate relationship between Gideon and Harrow, bound together by what appears at first to be simple hatred. But the challenges of Canaan House expose other layers, beginning with a peculiar but compelling mutual loyalty and continuing on to other, more complex feelings, ties, and shared fraught experiences.

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31319-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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