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THE DARK COURT

From the Songs of the Sage series , Vol. 2

A truly extraordinary SF saga of epic scope.

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The second installment of Evans’ Songs of the Sage series continues its narrative of a future society divided by IQ scores.

This genre-blending story—equal parts apocalyptic SF, arcane mystery, and mainstream thriller—is set in the early 22nd century, when the world’s population is separated into social classes based on intellect, with the lowest labeled the “Unskills.” A great many people fall into this category, and they’re “uncertified for work”; in an increasingly automated world run by artificial intelligence, some feel that Unskills are “useless eaters” holding humankind back from a glorious destiny. When a global pandemic quickly afflicts more than a billion people—all of them Unskilled—High Commissioner Lilith King, Interpol’s Special Representative to the United Nations, is brought in to investigate. King, whose own family line is murky, has unexplained powers that allow her to detect powerful beings—and she uses them to begin to unravel a nefarious conspiracy that, if successful, could lead to “the single greatest act of genocide in the history of the world.” Accompanied by Dr. Kace Westwood—whose Unskilled brother was murdered by radicals—she embarks on an investigation that leads them from the catacombs underneath Paris to the rainforests of South America to enclaves in the Swiss Alps. What they uncover is unimaginable, involving Doomsday cults, interdimensional rifts, and alien invasion. Grand-scale storytelling of this type is immensely difficult to do well, but Evans masterfully twists together multiple storylines with ease. The pacing is relentless throughout, as is the action, with jaw-dropping set-pieces that rival any in a Mission: Impossible movie. But the two elements that make this novel stand out are its deep character development and thematic profundity. Evans portrays Lilith so insightfully—especially her brutal backstory—that readers will feel a close connection to her, and the novel’s not-so-subtle commentary on the dangers of blind faith in technology and authority is powerful indeed.

A truly extraordinary SF saga of epic scope.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781739996246

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Nephilim Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2024

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DEVOLUTION

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

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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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE MINISTRY OF TIME

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

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A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.

In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today.

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781668045145

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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