A tantalizing, strategic setup for the next installment, which has all the ingredients to be a knockout.

THE MASK FALLING

From the Bone Season series , Vol. 4

The Pale Dreamer is back after narrowly surviving torture at the hands of the clairvoyant-hating Republic of Scion in The Song Rising (2017).

Scion would prefer you to think the Pale Dreamer is dead. And the dreamer herself, Paige Mahoney, is OK with that. The girl from the clairvoyant underworld of London is no more. Since defeating her previous mime-lord, Jaxon, and becoming Underqueen of London’s clairvoyant community–turned-rebellion, Paige has molded herself into the leader known as Black Moth. And while Black Moth has gained a vast following for the rumor that she single-handedly destroyed the clairvoyant-detecting system Senshield, she has barely escaped that victory with her life. After Paige is forced to flee London, the start of this long-awaited fourth installment of Shannon's Bone Season series finds her with her battle armor off, convalescing while in hiding in Paris alongside Arcturus Mesarthim, her controversial guardian and supporter. For those with rusty memories, Arcturus belongs to an immortal race known as the Rephaim, who were forced to leave the Netherworld as their home fell to ruins. Scion’s biggest secret is that it’s run by the Rephaim behind the scenes, most notably by Nashira Sargas, who seeks to control the world’s clairvoyant community to serve the Rephaim. Arcturus defied Nashira to help Paige seek rebellion, and now this oddly matched pair are bound to one another. Paige barely has time to rest when a new underground group, the Domino Programme, comes knocking. This network of free-world spies wants her help as they attempt to undercut Scion—which is planning to invade the Iberian Peninsula—from the inside using Paige’s gift as a Dreamwalker. Not used to taking orders, Paige balances risky operations within the inner circles of Scion leadership while trying to establish connections with the Paris clairvoyant syndicate. Between her duties as an agent as well as Black Moth, coupled with the exhausting will they, won’t they bit with Arcturus, it’s enough to make Paige literally out of breath. The constant slew of injuries, action scenes, and near-death escapes, which further shift the series’ genre from fantasy toward the dystopian realm, distracts from the excellent worldbuilding that is the tale’s beating heart. Sticking with Paige to the end will leave you with new secrets about the Rephaim and Scion’s future plans, along with an emerging threat that is sure to surprise—and will give readers hope that we have yet to learn everything about the potential of human clairvoyance. Thrilling, indeed.

A tantalizing, strategic setup for the next installment, which has all the ingredients to be a knockout.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-032-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A well-constructed prelude to what promises to be an interesting series.

THE ATLAS SIX

Dangerous intrigues and deadly secrets swirl around six ambitious young magicians competing for entry into a secret society.

In a world very much like our own, except that a certain percentage of humanity is born with magical powers, six extraordinarily gifted people in their 20s are invited to train for membership in the Alexandrian Society, which has carefully and somewhat surreptitiously preserved centuries of priceless knowledge since the (apparent) burning of the Library of Alexandria. At the end of one year, five of the six will be initiated into the Society, and the reader won’t be surprised to learn that the sixth person isn’t allowed to quietly return home. As the year advances, the candidates explore the limits of their unique powers and shift their alliances, facing threats and manipulations from both within and outside of their circle. For most of its length, the book appears to be a well-written but not especially revolutionary latecomer to the post–Harry Potter collection of novels featuring a darker and more cynical approach to magical education; these books include Sarah Gailey’s Magic for Liars, Marina and Sergey Dyachenko’s Vita Nostra, and Lev Grossman’s Magicians series. Blake also offers a significant dash of the older subgenre of students joining a mystical cult requiring a sacrifice, as in Elizabeth Hand’s Waking the Moon and Robert Silverberg’s The Book of Skulls. The character-building is intense and intriguing—such an interior deep dive is practically de rigueur for a story of this type, which depends on self-discovery—but the plot doesn’t seem to be going anywhere surprising. Then, the book's climax devastatingly reveals that Blake was holding her cards close to the vest all along, delicately hinting at a wider plot which only opens up fully—or almost fully—at the end, when it shoves the reader off a cliff to wait for the next book.

A well-constructed prelude to what promises to be an interesting series.

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-85451-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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This novel’s magic goes far beyond the dragons.

WHEN WOMEN WERE DRAGONS

As women around the world inexplicably transform into dragons, a young girl struggles to take care of her cousin in 1950s America.

It’s indecent to speak about dragons, just as it would be indecent to talk about, say, menstruation or the burning, building rage that so many women feel day to day. Because it’s such a forbidden topic, to the extent that scientists who study the dragon transformations are silenced by the government, no one really understands why “dragooning” happens or how it works. When Alex’s Aunt Marla is among the thousands of women who all turn into dragons together on the same day in 1955, her beloved cousin, Beatrice, becomes her adopted sister. And when Alex is in high school and her own mother dies of cancer, her father sticks her in a cheap apartment and tells her she’s old enough to raise Beatrice on her own. Alex inherited her mother’s talent for math and science, and she struggles between her own rage at how her abilities are constantly diminished by the men around her and her resentment that her Aunt Marla became a dragon and abandoned her and Beatrice. But the older Beatrice gets, the more she longs to become a dragon herself, and Alex lives in terror that Beatrice will leave her behind. In lesser hands the dragon metaphor would feel simplistic and general, but Barnhill uses it to imagine different ways of living, loving, and caring for each other. The result is a complex, heartfelt story about following your heart and opening your mind to new possibilities.

This novel’s magic goes far beyond the dragons.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54822-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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