A satisfying wrap-up to a delightfully gothic contemporary urban fantasy series.

READ REVIEW

GRAVE IMPORTANCE

In the conclusion to Shaw’s Greta Helsing trilogy (Dreadful Company, 2018, etc.), Greta must puzzle out the cause of a strange illness running rampant throughout the mummy community.

Mummy specialist Dr. Greta Helsing is thrilled to be asked to temporarily take the reins at Oasis Natrun, Marseille’s private and exclusive mummy spa and resort, and jumps at the chance to escape rainy London for sunny France. Greta is dazzled by the beauty of the hillside resort, not to mention its state-of-the-art medical equipment and uber competent nursing staff (including a mummy who used to be an Egyptian priest). Greta barely settles in before one of her patients suffers a mysterious fainting spell that drains his energy. The episodes are spreading, and the only thing that might be able to help is an ancient and rare Egyptian artifact ensconced very securely in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Meanwhile, during a trip to Italy with Grisaille, his new boyfriend and a master thief, the fashionable vampire Edmund Ruthven, Greta’s old friend, experiences a vicious bout of sickness and is whisked off to Oasis Natrun for treatment tout de suite, and Greta’s boyfriend, vampire Sir Frances Varney, joins her at the resort for moral support. Then there are those slightly creepy angelic creatures/fashion models that seem to be up to no good on the earthly plane. Greta has a lot on her plate, but her calm, take-charge attitude and compassionate bedside manner are a balm for her patients, and passages detailing her clever treatment practices add weight to her strange profession. Shaw’s characters, both human and supernatural (ghouls, witches, screaming skulls, oh my!), are genuinely fascinating, and her prose is just as droll and witty as ever, but it’s Greta, with her big heart and determination to do the right thing, that makes this series sparkle. Readers will be happy to be pulled along in Greta’s bustling wake—which includes an enlightening trip to hell—for as long as it takes to solve the mummy conundrum and finally spend some quality alone time with Varney.

A satisfying wrap-up to a delightfully gothic contemporary urban fantasy series.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-43465-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more