Short on finesse but may appeal to readers looking for something akin to the comics series Preacher.

THE DEMON

This first in a grim fantasy series recounts a millennia-spanning grudge between an angel and a demon.

Victor is an angel devoted to protecting the human race from a demon who has been wandering Earth, destroying entire cities. Dante is the demon, a traveler from a post-apocalyptic future, where Earth has been devastated by war between heaven and hell. Dante levels cities to prevent them from becoming targets of future nuclear assaults, a scheme devised by the lords of Heaven and Earth (Amun-Ra and Death, respectively) to murder thousands in order to save billions. Tormented by his demonic predisposition to delight in carnage, Dante is haunted by sadistic dreams; e.g., a tree of scorched human flesh bearing “the heads...of infants, severed and dried to cracking.” When his mission is complete, Dante returns to the future, while Victor waits thousands of years to plan his revenge. By the time that opportunity arises, Victor has learned of Dante’s motivations and seen Dante’s desire to live quietly in his own time. His hatred is rekindled by pettier concerns; Victor and Dante have fallen in love with the same woman, and she has chosen Dante. Romantic attractions happen abruptly, and the woman is often manipulated into position to motivate the male leads. For example, Death treats her as a gift: “I promised you a reward....your new fiancée is that reward.” Dante is a nuanced demon, and through him and the rest of the cast, debut author Bonogofsky continually upends simple good-vs.-evil dichotomies. There comes a point, however, when it’s no longer possible to sympathize with a protagonist who levels cities just to prove a point.

Short on finesse but may appeal to readers looking for something akin to the comics series Preacher.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-2742-3

Page Count: 251

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2017

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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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THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Self-assured, entertaining debut novel that blends genres and crosses continents in quest of magic.

The world’s not big enough for two wizards, as Tolkien taught us—even if that world is the shiny, modern one of the late 19th century, with its streetcars and electric lights and newfangled horseless carriages. Yet, as first-time novelist Morgenstern imagines it, two wizards there are, if likely possessed of more legerdemain than true conjuring powers, and these two are jealous of their turf. It stands to reason, the laws of the universe working thus, that their children would meet and, rather than continue the feud into a new generation, would instead fall in love. Call it Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, save that Morgenstern has her eye on a different Shakespearean text, The Tempest; says a fellow called Prospero to young magician Celia of the name her mother gave her, “She should have named you Miranda...I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.” Celia is clever, however, a born magician, and eventually a big hit at the Circus of Dreams, which operates, naturally, only at night and has a slightly sinister air about it. But what would you expect of a yarn one of whose chief setting-things-into-action characters is known as “the man in the grey suit”? Morgenstern treads into Harry Potter territory, but though the chief audience for both Rowling and this tale will probably comprise of teenage girls, there are only superficial genre similarities. True, Celia’s magical powers grow, and the ordinary presto-change-o stuff gains potency—and, happily, surrealistic value. Finally, though, all the magic has deadly consequence, and it is then that the tale begins to take on the contours of a dark thriller, all told in a confident voice that is often quite poetic, as when the man in the grey suit tells us, “There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.” Generous in its vision and fun to read. Likely to be a big book—and, soon, a big movie, with all the franchise trimmings.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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