Sullivan’s world is richly detailed but emotionally threadbare since all the action, bloodshed, magic, and menace lead to a...

AGE OF MYTH

From the Legends of the First Empire series , Vol. 1

In Elan’s ancient past, men were called Rhunes and were treated as less than animals by the long-lived, magic-wielding Fhrey, whom the Rhunes believe to be immortal gods.

With a suspenseful plot and some engaging characters, the first book of a new epic-fantasy series returns Sullivan's (The Death of Dulgath, 2015, etc.) readers to the land of Elan 3,000 years before the events of his previous Riyria Chronicles. One of the five major races of Elan, the Rhunes eke out poverty-stricken lives in clusters of small settlements, or dahls, while the extremely long-lived and well-heeled Fhrey rule as if they were gods. But when Raithe and his father cross the forbidden Bern River, their trespass blossoms into a war between the Fhrey and the Rhunes, in which Raithe earns the name of God-Killer and the Fhrey learn to respect Rhunes as men. Along the way readers will encounter a ferocious, possibly demonic, man-killing bear, Grin the Brown; a mystic child, Suri, who is far more than she seems, and her white wolf companion, Minna; a brave widow, Persephone, who will become the first female chieftain of her dahl; and a host of others, including such genre standards as giants, talking trees, goblins, and woodland spirits, all painted into a vast but familiar fantasy canvas.

Sullivan’s world is richly detailed but emotionally threadbare since all the action, bloodshed, magic, and menace lead to a clichéd conclusion: the good ones win, and the evil ones lose.

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-96533-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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