A stellar anthology that proves not only that fantasy is alive and well, but that it will be for years to come.

THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY

A companion piece of sorts to Beagle's critically acclaimed anthology, The Secret History of Fantasy (2010)—a collection of stories that transcended the conventions and clichés of contemporary fantasy—Beagle and Weisman’s latest contains 19 comparable stories from some of the genre's most innovative and exciting new voices.

Although most of the authors included here may not be household names like the ones in the earlier collection (which featured works from Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Octavia E. Butler, among others), the quality of the stories is undeniable. Also undeniable is the impressive diversity of storylines, which range from the whimsy of Ben Loory’s “The Duck,” about a bird who falls hopelessly in love with a rock, to the horror of Carmen Maria Machado’s Nebula Award–nominated “The Husband Stitch,” a darkly lyrical and deeply disturbing look at a woman with a penchant for storytelling whose life becomes a twisted tale. E. Lily Yu’s “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” is particularly memorable. A political fable that works on multiple levels, it chronicles a conflict between a nest of imperialistic wasps and a colony of peaceful bees. A few young bees begin questioning the violent new world order and plot rebellion. Other standout selections include “Tornado’s Siren” by Brooke Bolander, a love story featuring a tornado and a girl, and Alyssa Wong’s Nebula and World Fantasy Award–winning “Hungry Daughters and Starving Mothers,” which puts an innovative twist on the vampire mythos with a story about a young woman who, after realizing she can find sustenance consuming people’s thoughts, becomes addicted to eating the darkest. While all 19 pieces are exceptional, the anthology’s title is a bit of a misnomer; some stories were originally published as far back as 2012.

A stellar anthology that proves not only that fantasy is alive and well, but that it will be for years to come.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61696-257-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tachyon

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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