by Simon Kurt Unsworth ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 3, 2015
A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted no matter how much you’d prefer to look away.
Even hell has crime. And somebody has to go through…well, you know…to bring criminals to justice.
Keeping up with changing times, hell is no longer a smoldering, glowing array of cauldrons, ovens and other barbecue pits that smell like brimstone. Think, instead, of the worst city you’ve visited in your life and imagine it being even ickier; where nothing smells or tastes good, public transportation is literally the pits, and there are pesky little demons waiting at every dimly illuminated corner to snap at you and bite your skin. This being hell, there is also a bureaucracy with rules. And when the rules are violated by theft and even murder, hell has at its disposal condemned little people such as Thomas Fool, one of the nether region’s “Information Men” assigned to look into egregious brutalities that not even hell’s masters (wherever they are) will tolerate. And when bodies of young people start turning up in such horrifically deformed shapes that their very souls are sucked clean, Fool is compelled both from within and without this underworld to investigate this bewildering serial murder case—which may auger yet another transfiguration of this Very Bad Place. With wit, ingenuity and prodigious timing, first-time British novelist Unsworth imagines an unsettling afterlife that at times feels uncomfortably close to some of the more unbearable regions of our waking dreams. The whodunit aspects of this novel may, in the end, be less interesting than the phantasmagorical details surrounding it. But that’s far less a complaint than a compliment of the author’s visionary gifts.A grand, nightmarish page-turner that will have you riveted no matter how much you’d prefer to look away.
Pub Date: March 3, 2015
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015
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by Kevin Hearne ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 4, 2020
A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.
Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.
In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.
Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020
Page Count: 592
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019
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by Leigh Bardugo ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 1, 2019
With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 448
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019
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