A bold fantasy sequel that delivers on the first volume’s call to action.

HERALD

From the Dynamicist Trilogy series , Vol. 2

In this second installment of a trilogy, a talented student closes in on the villain of his prophetic dream but at great cost.

At the New School, in the bustling capital of Vercors, 18-year-old Robert Endicott trains to be a knight and a dynamicist. The latter involves manipulating energy with his mind to alter probabilities and perform what looks, superficially, like wizardry. Robert’s been preoccupied as of late with a “heraldic dream” that revealed a tall, cloaked figure murdering his friend Eloise Kyre and his lover, Koria Valcourt. He’s committed to thwarting this tragedy while learning to harness his talents at the Vercors Ice Company, home to a secret, off-campus training lab for dynamicists. The lab is safe, but because Robert can’t resist a woman in need, he helps seamstress Freyla Loche repair her “stitching engines” that were sabotaged. He later investigates a potential conspiracy of those loyal to the demon Nimrheal, who’d like to blame all of life’s ills on a new type of grain called “triticale.” When the cloaked figure does strike, Robert and his classmate Gregory Justice are well prepared, thanks to some covert work in a forge. But lives are lost in a grisly manner that references Robert’s favorite book, The Lonely Wizard. Mortal danger is much closer to Robert’s friends than he can guess. Hunt allows his dynamicist to flex his probability-altering muscles in this daring fantasy sequel. The students’ use of heat to change the outcome of thrown dice is a thrilling portrayal of magic. Later, theory is traded for battlefield action as “a sheet of electrons staggered downwards in the tiniest sliver of a second,” hurling lightning on the beastly skolves. And yet human affairs remain central to the narrative. Robert hears the complaints of those whom progress threatens to leave behind and realizes that “the scope and pace of change is...not a joke, and it is not just because people are crazy.” This has deep relevance to life in the early 21st century, and reaching out to readers is a noble endeavor. The finale brings chaos that will shape the next installment.

A bold fantasy sequel that delivers on the first volume’s call to action.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9990935-2-5

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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