Serviceable, undistinguished fantasy fare.

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Blood Immortal

In Centeno’s (Dark Sanity, 2014, etc.) latest novel, a “humyn” prince hopes a marriage of necessity to a high elf will end a terrible war. Demons plan otherwise.

Prince Aarian of Vlydyn casts aside his humyn love, Belisa, in favor of wedding a high elf princess of Lar’a’dos, but an evil plan threatens to destroy the prince’s humbling sacrifice. The dark elves’ ruler, Saldovin, makes a pact with demons, who call down their chaos upon Prince Aarian’s land to prevent the wedding. Yet the dark elf’s bargain proves only too effective: rather than merely shatter the peace of humyns and high elves, the demon hordes destroy the humyn kingdom and continue on to threaten the entire world (known as Yunedar). With only a handful of humyns remaining in all the realm, Prince Aarian is forced to look for help among horrifying allies: gargoyles, vampires, werewolves, dark elves, orcs, trolls, ogres and their overlord, a powerful dragon known as Earmathras. Taming his own doubts and the loss of Belisa—and taking up the role of the monsters’ chosen one, as foretold by prophecy—Aarian takes the fight to the demon legions in a final battle to save the ruins of Vlydyn and all of Yunedar. Unfortunately, characters are thin and familiar: the protagonist is impressively heroic, dragons are crafty and old, counselors are hidebound and stuffy, and so forth. There are no real surprises in the cast, beyond the mildly novel inclusion of creatures such as orcs and werewolves in speaking roles, while language is standard to most medieval-esque fantasies (think “accursed” and “slay”). Tonally, the book has much more in common with Dragonlance novels than with A Song of Ice and Fire: sex is kept offstage, violence is restrained and cinematic, and swearing is nonexistent. It’s an adventure for any age group.

Serviceable, undistinguished fantasy fare.

Pub Date: May 28, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2015

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Few chills and even less logic.

BENT HEAVENS

Can Liv put the pieces of her life back together after her father’s mental breakdown?

In rural Bloughton, Iowa, Liv takes solace in the cross country team and the idea that she will be off to college before too long. Three years ago, her father, the high school’s former English and drama teacher, vanished only to return naked and talking about alien abduction. He disappeared for good eight months later. Liv and her friend Doug check the elaborate traps her father built in the woods during those eight months every Sunday. The teacher who replaced him decides to stage the same musical that was her father’s swan song, and after getting in trouble for an outburst over her insensitivity, Liv decides to destroy the traps…but discovers that one has caught an alien. After hiding the horrifying creature in her father’s shed, they discover it has her father’s compass. In anger, Liv attacks the beast and then she and Doug torture it repeatedly as revenge for her missing father…but the alien is not what they perceive him to be, and as the truth is revealed, the horror mounts. Kraus’ (Blood Sugar, 2019, etc.) newest horror fantasy (there is no science here) might inspire more anger than horror as the protagonists respond to otherness with violence. Outrage will likely be followed by laughter at the stagy, manipulative, over-the-top conclusion. Most characters seem to be white.

Few chills and even less logic. (Horror. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15167-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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