The Tenth Virtue

AWAKENING

A debut contemporary fantasy—which re-examines a biblical myth—follows an orphaned girl growing up inside the mansion of a tyrannical uncle.

In this first installment of a projected series, the story revolves around Patrina Nadine Palinski, a Polish girl who lost her parents in a fire when she was just a baby. Now almost 12 years old, Patrina knows nothing of life except what is within the walls of her room in a tower of her Uncle Vlad’s mansion. But her uncle remains stern and unloving; he rarely sees her. Patrina has been raised by Miriam, the girl’s nanny ever since she arrived. When Miriam begins to disclose to her charge bombshell revelations about her heritage—including that Patrina’s mother, Izabella, was a ninth-genesis nephilim, an angel-human hybrid—the sheltered girl is stunned. Discussing the different types of nephilim, Miriam explains that Izabella was a virtue: “One of the things a virtue does to keep their legacy alive is the mother passes down her knowledge, wisdom, and experiences to her daughter. Sometimes these come out as what seem to be dreams. These are not actually dreams but experiences that happened in your mother’s life.” Patrina also discovers that she is a powerful 10th-genesis nephilim and that her uncle wants to bend her to his will and use her abilities for nefarious purposes. Vlad tells her: “You are the tenth, the golden child. The one who is going to make me a lot of gold!” While uninspired plotlines featuring nephilim have inundated the shelves for the last decade, Meinema manages to breathe new life into the biblical myth with solid writing and an imaginative back story. (For example, the work describes the profound significance of the first feather when a nephilim comes of age.) Impeccably edited, the narrative is fluid, lyrical, and has an ageless, almost folkloric feel to it—this spiritual coming-of-age novel could easily be marketed as a YA release. Additionally, the author keeps the storyline focused and relatively straightforward, which makes for a briskly paced, page-turning reading experience. Fueled by an undeniably optimistic undertone—Patrina is very much a pure-hearted and hopeful heroine—this tale offers fantasy readers looking for a glimpse of light in their darkly dystopic and post-apocalyptic fare a satisfying and soul-cleansing alternative. A mystical and divinely entertaining journey of self-discovery, with a potent heroine.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4917-9257-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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