Unlikely to rally crusaders in the fight against global warming but an intriguing tale for vampire enthusiasts.

THE LEGENDARY THREE

Feuding legions of vampires look for a way to defeat mysterious, powerful beings that live in the forests in Yates’ supernatural thriller, the second in a proposed trilogy (Music of the Winds, 2012).

Centuries ago, a trio of fabled Vikings traveled with three “baby dragons,” which aren’t dragons at all but the original vampires. Their inevitable onslaught against the Vikings leads to wild rumors in Middle Europe about the existence of fanged flying creatures. Via their bites, the originals create four more powerful vampires: Rowan, Massimo, Kara, and Kara’s trusty henchman, Toes. The vamps form a rickety truce, one prone to occasional bouts of discord, but an alliance is solidified in a war against the “tree beings,” which have long since kept the blood suckers out of the forests. But it’s a war that the vampires are losing, and Rowan seeks help in the U.S., where the tree beings communicate with humans. This event, known as Music of the Winds, where some participants display an ability to levitate, is celebrated by some and written off as an elaborate hoax by others. Rowan, though, has another purpose for his American visitation. He’s hoping that his long-lost love, Mierka, may have been reborn. The novel is a thinly disguised story about the adverse effects of global warming. The tree creatures teach everyone about maintaining a healthy planet, as opposed to villainous billionaire industrialist F.F. Barry, who’s bent on worldwide domination. Reading the previous book in the series is necessary to grasp all of the plot points of the second. For example, Emily, a fascinating character with the unique ability to speak to the tree beings, doesn’t herself make an appearance in this installment, but other characters refer to her. Other enigmatic elements—e.g., a hidden utopian city referenced in Emily’s “special notebook”—offer a less confusing element of mystery. Many characters have their moments to shine, most notably Toes, who earned his name from his giant talons and who attacks his victims by spinning like a top and drilling into the flesh. Yates leaves quite a bit up in the air by the end, but he’s undoubtedly (and effectively) amping up readers for the next and reputedly final book.

Unlikely to rally crusaders in the fight against global warming but an intriguing tale for vampire enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1494413781

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

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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 celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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