Simply put, this series is a masterclass in grand-scale storytelling. The future of epic fantasy is here—and this saga is it.

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THE TWO-FACED QUEEN

From the Legacy of the Mercenary King series , Vol. 2

The meaty sequel to Martell’s debut, The Kingdom of Liars (2020), continues the epic narrative of Michael Kingman, who—falsely accused of killing a king—is tasked with saving the very realm where his life has become forfeit.

A month after King Isaac was presumably murdered, Serena—Princess of Hollow and heir to the throne—is preparing for her coronation. Although she deeply wants to execute Kingman, a close childhood friend who she thinks killed her father, she has more pressing concerns. With a rebellion looming outside the city’s wall, bloody civil war brewing, and an infamous serial killer loose inside Hollow, Serena comes to an uneasy agreement with Kingman—if he can quash the rebellion and locate and defeat the most notorious killer in the kingdom’s history, he’ll convince the future queen of his innocence and restore his family’s tarnished honor. Kingman’s task is complicated by numerous entanglements, first and foremost his mentorship under Dark, an enigmatic mercenary whose reasons for instructing Kingman are questionable at best. Powered by an impressively large cast of well-developed characters, immersive worldbuilding, a multitapestried narrative that adeptly weaves together numerous storylines, and an abundance of jaw-dropping plot twists, this novel also works on a more sublime, symbolic level. The shattered moon Celona, whose pieces regularly fall to Earth and create havoc, is a perfect symbol for the main characters as well as the story’s overall theme: “Everyone is broken in one way or another…the beauty of life—the joy of living—is finding others that are broken in a way that covers your weakness, exposes your strengths, and makes you stronger together. That’s all love is.”

Simply put, this series is a masterclass in grand-scale storytelling. The future of epic fantasy is here—and this saga is it.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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