In this world of magic, the high born despise the Wit, an ability to connect to the minds of animals, yet prize the Skill, a...

FOOL'S ASSASSIN

From the Fitz and the Fool series , Vol. 1

After a decade, Hobb (Fool’s Fate, 2004, etc.) again takes up the characters from the Farseer series.

In this world of magic, the high born despise the Wit, an ability to connect to the minds of animals, yet prize the Skill, a powerful magic possessed by most of the Farseer kings and their kin. FitzChivalry Farseer, royal bastard and former king’s assassin, has abandoned intrigue and, posing as Tom Badgerlock, holder of the Withywoods estate, lives the life bucolic. He’s married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, upon whom he dotes. Indeed, at the time of the midwinter festivals, he ignores a possibly important messenger in favor of pleasing her, and when he finally remembers, the messenger has vanished—possibly abducted by a group of pale strangers. Tom, though, makes no serious effort to discover anything about these mysterious events, being wholly occupied by family matters. Hundreds of pages, literally and figuratively, dawdle by. In his more contemplative moments, Tom wonders why he’s received no messages from the Fool, his companion and ally through the first six books. Then 50-something Molly insists she’s pregnant. More than a year passes. Molly’s belly swells, slowly. Still nobody believes her, least of all Tom, though even the servants are careful to humor her. Finally, to general astonishment, she gives birth to a strange, tiny, pale girl she and Tom name Bee. The girl seems to be simple-minded and, although she feeds eagerly, grows as slowly as her gestation. Years pass. Tenacious readers eventually will be rewarded. With a cliffhanger. Hobb is hardly the first to stumble in reviving a long-dormant series, nor will she be the last.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-553-39242-5

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally...

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NINTH HOUSE

Yale’s secret societies hide a supernatural secret in this fantasy/murder mystery/school story.

Most Yale students get admitted through some combination of impressive academics, athletics, extracurriculars, family connections, and donations, or perhaps bribing the right coach. Not Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The protagonist of Bardugo’s (King of Scars, 2019, etc.) first novel for adults, a high school dropout and low-level drug dealer, Alex got in because she can see dead people. A Yale dean who's a member of Lethe, one of the college’s famously mysterious secret societies, offers Alex a free ride if she will use her spook-spotting abilities to help Lethe with its mission: overseeing the other secret societies’ occult rituals. In Bardugo’s universe, the “Ancient Eight” secret societies (Lethe is the eponymous Ninth House) are not just old boys’ breeding grounds for the CIA, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and so on, as they are in ours; they’re wielders of actual magic. Skull and Bones performs prognostications by borrowing patients from the local hospital, cutting them open, and examining their entrails. St. Elmo’s specializes in weather magic, useful for commodities traders; Aurelian, in unbreakable contracts; Manuscript goes in for glamours, or “illusions and lies,” helpful to politicians and movie stars alike. And all these rituals attract ghosts. It’s Alex’s job to keep the supernatural forces from embarrassing the magical elite by releasing chaos into the community (all while trying desperately to keep her grades up). “Dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway: Do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.” A townie’s murder sets in motion a taut plot full of drug deals, drunken assaults, corruption, and cover-ups. Loyalties stretch and snap. Under it all runs the deep, dark river of ambition and anxiety that at once powers and undermines the Yale experience. Alex may have more reason than most to feel like an imposter, but anyone who’s spent time around the golden children of the Ivy League will likely recognize her self-doubt.

With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31307-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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