Jul 162019
 

The Guardian: There are no everyday elements to Kerstin Hall’s debut novella The Border Keeper. It begins on the outskirts of the spirit world, before moving to the weird realm of the underworld, Mkalis, where demon beasts and macabre gods are in constant battle. The grieving Vasethe has come to petition the eponymous border keeper: he wants her to guide him through Mkalis in search of his dead lover’s soul. What follows is a phantasmagorical picaresque through a lushly realised underworld, populated by a grotesque bestiary of fantastical creatures, with danger dogging our protagonists’ every step. This twisty example of the new weird genre examines love, loss and loyalty, packing skilful world-building and a powerful emotional punch into a little over 200 pages.

Jul 162019
 

“Beautifully and vividly imagined. Eerie, lovely, and surreal”―Ann Leckie

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

In The Border Keeper, debut author Kerstin Hall unfolds a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal.

Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.

The Border Keeper spins wonders both epic―the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, impossible oceans, hidden fortresses―and devastatingly personal―a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood. What Vasethe discovers in Mkalis threatens to bring his own secrets into light and throw both worlds into chaos.

Jul 122019
 

Library Journal: Gideon Nav wants to escape servitude in the Ninth House. Armed with only her sword, her wit, and a bunch of dirty magazines, she is ready to leave behind the catacombs, the nuns, the dead, and especially necromancer Lady Harrowhawk, bane of her existence. However, Harrow calls on Gideon for a quest she cannot get out of: the emperor demands that the houses bring their firstborn necromancers, along with their cavaliers, to ascend to the position of Lyctor and serve him. Harrow does not have a cavalier; she has Gideon. Forced to the First House where the other House heirs and cavaliers arrive, Gideon and Harrow are thrust into a battle of politics, House secrets, and murder, while dealing with their own relationship, which is as sharp as a rapier blade.

VERDICT At once sarcastic, sincere, heart-wrenching, and honest pulpy enjoyment, filled with dark magic, swordplay, and lesbian necromancers, Muir’s debut is a fantastic sf/fantasy blend. Readers will discuss this journey for a long time and be clamoring for the next installment.

Jul 112019
 

A strikingly original Icelandic debut set in a strangely familiar alternate Reykjavik where wild and industrialised magic meet.

Perfect for fans of contemporary fantasy in the style of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or China Mieville’s The City & The City

Sæmundur the Mad, addict and sorcerer, has been expelled from the magical university, Svartiskóli, and can no longer study galdur, an esoteric source of magic. Obsessed with proving his peers wrong, he will stop at nothing to gain absolute power and knowledge, especially of that which is long forbidden.

Garún is an outcast: half-human, half-huldufólk, fighting against an unjust government that refuses to grant people like her basic rights. A militant revolutionary and graffiti artist, recklessly dismissive of the status quo, she will do anything to achieve a just society, including spark a revolution. Even if she has to do it alone.

This is a tale of revolution set in a twisted version of Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic and populated by humans, interdimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

Jul 092019
 

From Cherie Priest, the author of The Family Plot and Maplecroft, comes The Toll, a tense, dark, and scary treat for modern fans of the traditionally strange and macabre.

Take a road trip into a Southern gothic horror novel.

Titus and Melanie Bell are on their honeymoon and have reservations in the Okefenokee Swamp cabins for a canoeing trip. But shortly before they reach their destination, the road narrows  into a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car.

Much later, Titus wakes up lying in the middle of the road, no bridge in sight. Melanie is missing. When he calls the police, they tell him there is no such bridge on Route 177 . . .

Jul 032019
 

Congratulations to Jo Ann Brown’s for The Amish Widower’s Twins making this week’s Publisher Weekly Mass Market Bestsellers List at #21!    

Jul 012019
 

Two tiny twins and one lost love…

The end of the Amish Spinster Club?

Moving far away from her first love is the perfect remedy for Leanna Wagler’s broken heart—until he buys the neighboring farm. Now Leanna is in an unexpected position: temporary nanny to Gabriel Miller’s adorable twins. Though his kinder need her, Leanna spells trouble for the Amish widower…because a second chance with her means betraying a secret he’s honor-bound to protect.

Jun 262019
 

Tor.com: As noted in discussion of the first book in the series, the Lotus Kingdoms trilogy is one large arc spread over three separate novels, which I particularly appreciate in a second-world setting as grand in scope as that of the Eternal Sky. Released from the constraint of wedging in a stand-alone plot for each novel, Bear devotes all of her considerable craft to weaving one dense, affectively powerful story. The result is well worth the gamble. In fact, I’d argue that the tension ratcheting up toward the conclusion of the overarching plot makes this one of the most gripping middle novels I’ve read in a long time.

Truly, as a whole, The Red-Stained Wings is exactly the sort of fare I expect from Bear at top form: a tight, engaging, richly-described novel that maneuvers with precision through a broad cast of characters spread over an even broader field of action, rife with mythos and intrigue. And it’s got a bit of humor to it, too. While it’s impossible to sketch out the twists and complexities of the developing plot in this space, suffice to say that it’s executed with skill from first page to last.

As with the first book, the part-two-of-three structure of The Red-Stained Wings leaves me grasping for more story at the last page. Bear’s pacing and plotting are superb; the characters are engaging, witty, flawed. It’s impossible not to feel drawn along with the tight flow of the narrative from one person to the next or one immense vista to another, such as the dragon’s dead city or the volcano-and-sorcery ravaged Ansh-Sahal. Grandiose second-world fantasies in this vein are rarely done so well and so accessibly. I’d recommend reading The Stone in the Skull and The Red-Stained Wings one after another for the greatest possible effect—and I’ll probably reread them again before the last book, too, to gulp it down as one big, breathtaking tale.

Jun 252019
 

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR – WINNER OF THE 2016 LOCUS AWARD – NOMINATED FOR THE HUGO, NEBULA AND ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARDS.

An ex-Kel art thief has to save the world from a galaxy-shattering prototype weapon…

A general outnumbered eight-to-one must outsmart his opponent…

A renegade returns from seclusion to bury an old comrade…

From the incredible imagination of Hugo- and Arthur C. Clarke-nominated author Yoon Ha Lee comes a collection of stories set in the world of the best-selling Ninefox Gambit. Showcasing Lee’s extraordinary imagination, this collection takes you to the very beginnings of the Hexarchate’s history and reveals new never-before-seen stories.

Jun 072019
 

Cover of Dragon Pear by Yoon Ha Lee.Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl is named a 2019 Horn Book Summer Reading middle-school selection!

Thirteen-year-old Min has a powerful secret: she’s a gumiho, a fox spirit disguised as a human, who can shape-shift and alter others’ perceptions. She enthusiastically wields these powers when she ditches her “dismal life” on the barren planet Jinju to track down her brother Jun, who’s gone AWOL. Lee’s richly detailed, cohesive, original vision is a lively mash-up of outer-space sci-fi and Korean culture and folklore.