An offbeat and engaging story of a mythical creature.

THE DRAGON IN THE WHITES

From the The Dragon in the Whites series , Vol. 1

Modern New Englanders go up against an ancient, fire-breathing dragon in Baird’s debut fantasy series starter.

Tryggvi Brynjarson is a young Viking who loves to explore. While on the island of Vestmannaeyjar with his father and others, he goes off on his own and discovers a unique stone. He keeps the rock with him throughout his life, including during a grueling journey in search of new land; he eventually marries, and his wife has a child. Centuries later, Tryggvi is reborn as a dragon, which emerges from the stone that he’d discovered. The dragon is perfectly content to live alone in caves, but the humans that it periodically encounters are frightened of it and attack it with weapons. About 1,000 years later, in the modern day, 17-year-old New Hampshire native Liam Tryggvison visits his grandfather in Maine. While hiking in the forest, he’s excited to find a cave full of gold coins. But Liam also awakens the aforementioned dragon, from which he narrowly escapes. Once the dragon is outside and takes flight, it confronts aircraft and gunfire. Surprisingly, the winged creature then vanishes almost as quickly as it appeared. Liam, feeling guilt over how the dragon endangered people’s lives, is determined to track it down—although the beast may be ready to hunt. Much of Baird’s tale doesn’t feature the titular creature. The lengthy initial section, however, is utterly engrossing, as Tryggvi faces harsh cold at sea as well as land-based perils such as bears and wolves. The early part of the book also offers the perspective of the sympathetic dragon, who has hazy memories of its previous life and wants humans to leave it alone. The author’s straightforward prose clearly establishes the regularly changing settings and delineates the passage of time. Baird also delivers brisk action scenes, as when the dragon battles the aforementioned “metal birds” that are capable of hurting it. The ending offers resolution but also incentive for readers to check out the next published installment.

An offbeat and engaging story of a mythical creature.

Pub Date: April 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5204-1250-4

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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 gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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