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

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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

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