A compelling book of Otherside that goes from strength to strength.

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ELDRITCH SPARKS

From the Shadows of Otherside series , Vol. 2

The second installment of Hill’s urban-fantasy series pits its air-spirit private detective against a plot to raise the dead.

Arden Finch is a sylph—an elemental born of an elf and a djinni. For her first 25 years, her djinn relatives taught her to hide her powers. Elves consider sylphs abominations, and most would kill her on sight. After the events of Elemental (2020), however, Arden has gained the begrudging protection of House Monteague, the leading elven family. She’s now a neutral party in the squabbles and maneuverings of Otherside—an umbrella term for the disparate cliques of supernatural creatures who lead double lives among North Carolina’s human population. Arden may have found a bit of acceptance, but her happiness is short-lived, as Otherside is in imminent danger of being revealed to the humans. Before that happens, Arden needs to forge an alliance among the elves, vampires, werewolves, djinn, and others. But her werewolf boyfriend, Roman, keeps taking actions behind her back; the Monteague princess Evangeline wants her dead; and sultry vampire Maria is determined to seduce her. Worst of all, Arden’s latest investigation in the human world—into bodies stolen from the local morgue—leads her to suspect that a lich lord has risen and is building a zombie army. Can Arden ward off both death and disaster? Hill employs a pulp-noir style with modern-day verve and attitude, and Arden has a bit of a Jessica Jones vibe. As a supernatural being passing as a mixed-race human, she’s keenly aware of contemporary minority rights movements, and her fortitude in Otherside dealings resonates strongly with analogous struggles in the real world. But although Hill’s worldbuilding will draw the reader in, it’s the strong-willed, hard-boiled protagonist who will keep them engaged, as Arden’s narration ties the speculative elements together and brings a sense of simmering urgency to the proceedings. One minor criticism is that Hill’s prose occasionally hurries along a bit too quickly, but it won’t stop readers from finishing the book in one sitting.

A compelling book of Otherside that goes from strength to strength.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73442-274-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Benu Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.

MIDNIGHT SUN

From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths.

THE BURNING GOD

In the final installment of the Poppy War trilogy, a warrior shaman resolves to seize control of her homeland from enemies far and near, no matter the cost.

Having suffered severe losses and betrayals, Rin rallies the Southern Coalition in an effort to defeat the Mugenese troops still in Nikan, the president of the Nikara Republic, and the foreign menace of the Hesperians, with their almost unimaginably advanced technology. But a southern army is not enough, and Rin must also rely on the unpredictable powers of her wild god, the Phoenix, and form a risky alliance with the Trifecta that once ruled Nikan. Drawing heavily on 20th-century Chinese history, Kuang continues to explore familiar themes—including imperialism, racism, colorism, and the terrible and long-lasting effects of war—while deepening Rin’s portrayal, as Rin experiences moments of heartfelt sympathy and connection with others while also continually seeking power and succumbing over and over to her own hubris and paranoia. This installment dwells heavily on the devastating realities of war and the costs of leading a nation in crisis but does not sink into overly grotesque meditations—or perhaps we, along with Rin, have become desensitized and hardened. Ultimately, despite the epic scope of the plot, the novel hinges on the relationships between Rin and those closest to her: A nation may rise or fall and thousands may lose their homes or starve in the process, but their fate depends not on magic from the divine plane but on simple, fallible people.

A dark and devastating conclusion that transcends its roots in historical fact to examine brutal truths. (Map, Dramatis Personae)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266262-0

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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