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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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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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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