A terrifically entertaining, complex, and original fantasy.

THE LAST LUMENIAN

A rebellious princess discovers magical abilities that help her take on a powerful enemy in this debut fantasy.

As the king’s daughter, 17-year-old Ma’hana Lilla of the planet Uhna is expected to obey. But Lilla strongly disagrees with her father’s policies, which keep refugees imprisoned in squalid camps even though Uhna is immensely wealthy thanks to mastering technology that’s combined with elemental magic. Lilla joins the rebellion, but events become complicated when Callum a’ruun, a general with the Teryn Praelium, arrives with a delegation. They’re seeking assistance from the 19 worlds of the Pax Septum Coalition, which Uhna leads. Although the Archgoddess of the Eternal Light and Order prevailed last time in the era wars, the Archgod of Chaos and Destruction is again gathering an army of corrupt fiends and servants. Besides politics, Lilla struggles with panic disorder, grief over her mother’s early death, and alarm over the control her new, young stepmother wields over the king. Callum is both irritating and attractive, complicating Lilla’s relationship with Arrov, a pilot who’s joined the rebellion. But all these local and personal difficulties pale beside the undeniable call of Lilla’s true nature, her untapped magical abilities, and her essential role in combating the Archgod. In her novel, Blaise deftly blends Lilla’s approachable, young present-tense voice with sophisticated worldbuilding, seen even in minor details. For example, guards still wear cutlasses because Uhna was founded by pirates, and Lilla’s island home is reflected in her favorite expletive: “Buckets of fishguts!” The plot’s many disparate ingredients—romance, war, politics, magic, technology, family tensions, theology, psychology—meld in a deliciously hearty bouillabaisse, helped by intelligent exposition, surprising revelations, believable conflicts, and strong character development. Everything builds to an exciting, dramatic, and satisfying conclusion.

A terrifically entertaining, complex, and original fantasy. (glossary)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-050-7

Page Count: 327

Publisher: Lilac Grove Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2020

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Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

BLACK SUN

From the Between Earth and Sky series , Vol. 1

A powerful priest, an outcast seafarer, and a man born to be the vessel of a god come together in the first of Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky trilogy.

The winter solstice is coming, and the elite members of the sacred Sky Made clans in the city of Tova are preparing for a great celebration, led by Naranpa, the newly appointed Sun Priest. But unrest is brewing in Carrion Crow, one of the clans. Years ago, a previous Sun Priest feared heresy among the people of Carrion Crow and ordered his mighty Watchers to attack them, a terrible act that stripped the clan of its power for generations. Now, a secretive group of cultists within Carrion Crow believe that their god is coming back to seek vengeance against the Sun Priest, but Naranpa’s enemies are much closer than any resurrected god. Meanwhile, a young sailor named Xiala has been outcast from her home and spends much of her time drowning her sorrows in alcohol in the city of Cuecola. Xiala is Teek, a heritage that brings with it some mysterious magical abilities and deep knowledge of seafaring but often attracts suspicion and fear. A strange nobleman hires Xiala to sail a ship from Cuecola to Tova. Her cargo? A single passenger, Serapio, a strange young man with an affinity for crows and a score to settle with the Sun Priest. Roanhorse’s fantasy world based on pre-Columbian cultures is rich, detailed, and expertly constructed. Between the political complications in Tova, Serapio’s struggle with a great destiny he never asked for, and Xiala’s discovery of abilities she never knew she had, the pages turn themselves. A beautifully crafted setting with complex character dynamics and layers of political intrigue? Perfection.

Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3767-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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