Hickman & Hickman fans will jump right in.

READ REVIEW

UNWEPT

From the Nightbirds series , Vol. 1

The beginning of a new fantasy mystery trilogy, from the authors of Swept Up by the Sea (2013, etc.).

Ellis Harkington wakes in a coffin in skeletal form, acquires flesh and rises—although she remembers nothing of this and little of anything else when she finds herself on a train traveling to the remote seaside town of Gamin, Maine. This is mysterious. In fact, just pepper every sentence of this review with the word “mysterious” and you’ll get the idea. Waiting to greet Ellis is Uncle Lucian, a doctor whom Ellis doesn’t remember, although he gives her to understand that she’s been away in the city being treated for an illness. Nor does she recall the handsome Merrick Bacchus, “benefactor of the entire town.” Merrick urges her to move into his huge house, where Lucian also lived until leaving for unknown reasons. Ellis does remember her cousin Jenny March and, vaguely, a secret garden and an ominous gate through which she herself disappeared, although Jenny did not follow. Everybody insists that her memories will return, but nobody offers to explain. Jenny mentions the “rules.” There are rumors about a series of ghastly murders. A fire burns down half the town. The Nightbirds, purportedly a book society yet with no books in evidence, acclaims her reappearance. Ellis recalls none of the members. One night, an alluring soldier visits Ellis; he nearly seduces her, but then she notices a strange blue mark on his face, whereupon he turns into a giant black moth. In the woods by the shore lurks the apparently shipwrecked Capt. Isaiah Walker, who himself watches a vessel called Mary Celeste ground itself on the rocks. It’s certainly all puzzling and mostly satisfying, if promising to be a thin stretch over three volumes.

Hickman & Hickman fans will jump right in.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3203-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WATER DANCER

The celebrated author of Between the World and Me (2015) and We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) merges magic, adventure, and antebellum intrigue in his first novel.

In pre–Civil War Virginia, people who are white, whatever their degree of refinement, are considered “the Quality” while those who are black, whatever their degree of dignity, are regarded as “the Tasked.” Whether such euphemisms for slavery actually existed in the 19th century, they are evocatively deployed in this account of the Underground Railroad and one of its conductors: Hiram Walker, one of the Tasked who’s barely out of his teens when he’s recruited to help guide escapees from bondage in the South to freedom in the North. “Conduction” has more than one meaning for Hiram. It's also the name for a mysterious force that transports certain gifted individuals from one place to another by way of a blue light that lifts and carries them along or across bodies of water. Hiram knows he has this gift after it saves him from drowning in a carriage mishap that kills his master’s oafish son (who’s Hiram’s biological brother). Whatever the source of this power, it galvanizes Hiram to leave behind not only his chains, but also the two Tasked people he loves most: Thena, a truculent older woman who practically raised him as a surrogate mother, and Sophia, a vivacious young friend from childhood whose attempt to accompany Hiram on his escape is thwarted practically at the start when they’re caught and jailed by slave catchers. Hiram directly confronts the most pernicious abuses of slavery before he is once again conducted away from danger and into sanctuary with the Underground, whose members convey him to the freer, if funkier environs of Philadelphia, where he continues to test his power and prepare to return to Virginia to emancipate the women he left behind—and to confront the mysteries of his past. Coates’ imaginative spin on the Underground Railroad’s history is as audacious as Colson Whitehead’s, if less intensely realized. Coates’ narrative flourishes and magic-powered protagonist are reminiscent of his work on Marvel’s Black Panther superhero comic book, but even his most melodramatic effects are deepened by historical facts and contemporary urgency.

An almost-but-not-quite-great slavery novel.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-59059-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more