Comedy-fantasy fans with strong stomachs will enjoy this book.

READ REVIEW

DOUBLE-CROSSING THE BRIDGE

A group of trolls plans to rob a greedy corporation in Sover’s fantasy debut.

Troll protagonist Granu is jobless and struggling to pay rent in New Metta, a subterranean city hidden from the sun. The former teacher was scarred physically and mentally by an attack by a group of troll students, and she spends most of her time at her favorite bar, Goron’s. Her friend Kradduk, a playboy with a heart of gold, works at The Covered Bridge (“TCB” for short), whose administrators lucratively charge humans a toll to cross. When Fillig, another pal, drunkenly suggests robbing TCB, they’re soon consumed by the plan—Fillig and Granu for financial reasons and Kradduk to settle a score. Granu recruits Len, a rather creepy hacker neighbor, while Fillig reveals details of the heist to Lyssa, an attractive troll with more intelligence than she lets on. New Metta is teeming with other oddly named creatures, including zimbles, molents, grawbacks, and swogs; the latter are powerful piglike beings with tiny wings who run TCB like a fraternity house. Eventually, the five trolls hatch a plan to outsmart the swogs, keep out of the sun (which would turn them to stone) and avoid the harassing billy goats who roam New Metta. Sover’s ability to gross out readers is nothing short of gleeful; Granu and the gang feast on kittens and “Unicorn fillets” and even contemplate eating one another in fits of rage. But they also have embarrassing one-night stands and are saddled with student loan debt. The worldbuilding is immersive, although it’s mostly just everyday human life with a few grotesque descriptors tacked on. Sover also attempts a twist on beauty standards: Granu is petite, green-eyed, and smooth-skinned, which her world finds humanoid and ugly; however, all three male supporting characters seem to be attracted to her nonetheless. Sover’s prose is strong, and her passion for her story is evident. A hopeful ending leaves room for further adventures.

Comedy-fantasy fans with strong stomachs will enjoy this book.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-08-706482-6

Page Count: 316

Publisher: The Parliament House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2020

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A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths.

THE BURNING GOD

In the final installment of the Poppy War trilogy, a warrior shaman resolves to seize control of her homeland from enemies far and near, no matter the cost.

Having suffered severe losses and betrayals, Rin rallies the Southern Coalition in an effort to defeat the Mugenese troops still in Nikan, the president of the Nikara Republic, and the foreign menace of the Hesperians, with their almost unimaginably advanced technology. But a southern army is not enough, and Rin must also rely on the unpredictable powers of her wild god, the Phoenix, and form a risky alliance with the Trifecta that once ruled Nikan. Drawing heavily on 20th-century Chinese history, Kuang continues to explore familiar themes—including imperialism, racism, colorism, and the terrible and long-lasting effects of war—while deepening Rin’s portrayal, as Rin experiences moments of heartfelt sympathy and connection with others while also continually seeking power and succumbing over and over to her own hubris and paranoia. This installment dwells heavily on the devastating realities of war and the costs of leading a nation in crisis but does not sink into overly grotesque meditations—or perhaps we, along with Rin, have become desensitized and hardened. Ultimately, despite the epic scope of the plot, the novel hinges on the relationships between Rin and those closest to her: A nation may rise or fall and thousands may lose their homes or starve in the process, but their fate depends not on magic from the divine plane but on simple, fallible people.

A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths. (Map, Dramatis Personae)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266262-0

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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