A whimsical, interactive foray into the history of storytelling and morality in medieval Armenia.

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Fables of both medieval and contemporary Armenia come together in Kamler’s collection of stories.

The history of fables and storytelling in Armenia stretches even further back than the creation of the language’s alphabet in the fifth century. This is a collection of morality tales, some of which transcend time. “The Lion and the Fox” is about the dangers of hubris, while others seem far removed from modern sensibilities, such as “The Mule,” where patriarchal attitudes seep in to declare “rule and everything else should be according to the father’s lineage and not the mother’s.” Kamler explores all of these themes through the translation of 205 medieval Armenian folktales and 11 stories written by the editor that pay homage to the originals and are set in medieval times. Often they contain animal characters, princes, or warriors, and virtually all of them are less than a page long. Despite this brevity both the translated medieval tales and the contemporary stories feature some instructive messages. Kamler’s physical arrangement of the volume encourages the reader to think deeply about the fables as literature as much as enjoying them for their historical detail. Space is left every so often throughout the book for the reader to record their own feelings in response to the fables, which are often commentaries on personal character and grounded in religious thought. This could make for a jarring experience at first but becomes a pleasant surprise that encourages pause and reflection. In particular, the contrast between the collection of medieval folktales and modern offers the most material for contemplation: Here Kamler emphasizes the contemporary resonance of fables by using similar language and characters as the medieval stories. For example, his “The Squirrel and the Woodpecker” uses animals to teach about the bounds of human understanding, like Vardan Aygektsi’s “The Monkey and the Fisherman.” The collection as a whole, by exploring fable conventions and the medieval storytelling of writers such as Mkhitar Gosh and Aygetski, offers some unique insights into the history of thought in Armenian culture.

A whimsical, interactive foray into the history of storytelling and morality in medieval Armenia.

Pub Date: June 18, 2023

ISBN: 978-1738835249

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Dudukhouse Inc

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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