Booklist: Ellie Bride is an intelligent, determined, and asexual young Native woman with the ability to bring the dead back to life, as demonstrated through her stalwart companion, Kirby the poltergeist puppy. One rule remains unchanging, though: humans must never be brought back from the underworld. After Ellie’s beloved cousin dies and reveals the murderer to her in dreams, she must find a way to unravel the truth behind the eerie town of Willowbee, Texas, and work with her premonitions, her family, and her fae-descended best friend to keep everyone safe from a vengeful ghost. Little Badger’s stunning, haunting debut brings to the fantasy genre a fresh voice and perspective, weaving in folktales, omens, and urban legends of the protagonist’s Lipan Apache culture. Illuminated by Cai’s intricately beautiful chapter-opening illustrations and interspersed with Apache terminology and mythology, often presented through stories of Ellie’s namesake and ancestor, Six-Great, Little Badger’s fast-paced, spine-tingling mystery follows Ellie the aspiring PI (paranormal investigator) and her allies as they battle vampires, spirits, curses, and familial and personal grief to overcome an evil that threatens to end them all. Older readers raised on series like the Spiderwick Chronicles or Artemis Fowl will delight in Ellie’s tongue-in-cheek, self-assured voice, as well as her adventures with the mystical and magical elements that run through her lineage.
NPR: If the first books were episodes in a four-part TV miniseries, then Network Effect is the feature-length movie with the bigger budget and scope, and it is no less enjoyable….with a little more room to breathe, Wells draws out all of those elements in a way that extends the enjoyable experience of the novellas, yet doesn’t drag.
One of the consistent strengths and joys of the series is Murderbot’s internal dialogue. It catalogues the world with files and backups and keyword tagging that are both technical and humorous. It also has a childlike way of narrating through problems, of chiding itself for its failures and cheering on its own successes in a way that is hard not to find endearing.
Wells is also adept at taking action that occurs in seconds, or even fractions of seconds because that is the speed of a computer, and slowing it all down for us simple humans to understand. And when Murderbot needs to live up to the name and get its hands dirty, Wells can also ratchet things up to John Wick-ian levels of visceral action.
And that’s the hallmark of any good series — it leaves you wanting more. Murderbot and the world it inhabits constantly leave you wanting more, in the best possible way.
Kirkus: Johnson’s world-hopping debut uses science fictional tools and an exciting plot to address urgent questions of privilege and position. Johnson employs Cara’s situation to forthrightly examine questions of privilege, trauma, assimilation, colonialism, and upbringing. The characters, voice, and twists all demand the reader’s attention. A compelling stand-alone debut that will leave readers thrilled, thoughtful, and anticipating the author’s next book.
Publishers Weekly: Bennett still keeps readers jumping at shadows with nail-biting writing. Anyone looking for a quick fright will want to check this out.
New York Times: Like a feature film following a television series, “Network Effect” faces the challenge of presenting a longer-than-usual episode for existing fans while standing on its own as an intelligible entry point for new readers. It more than succeeds, with all the intensity, humor and deep feeling of the novellas flourishing in a more complex and ambitious structure. While the chief pleasure of the Murderbot Diaries is the protagonist’s unique and delightful voice, “Network Effect” introduces new characters and subtly different perspectives in a way that only amplifies its shocking joy. I caught myself rereading my favorite parts the way Murderbot rewatches episodes of “Sanctuary Moon,” and I can’t recommend it enough.
Publishers Weekly: Indigenous stories, modern-day technology, and the supernatural successfully blend to build a fast-paced murder mystery in Little Badger’s intriguing solo debut. After 17-year-old, asexual Ellie’s older cousin Trevor is fatally injured in an apparent car accident, he comes to her in a dream, identifying his killer and begging her to protect his family. Lipan Apache Ellie, named for her “heroic ancestor”—her maternal sixth-great-grandmother, Elatsoe, now known as “Six-Great”—has inherited from her the gift of waking and training ghosts, and sets out to reveal the accident as a crime and unmask the killer. Accompanied by her faithful sidekick, the ghost of her dead dog Kirby, her loyal friend, “white Celtic-and-Nordic-American” cheerleader Jay, and actively supported by her understanding parents, Ellie battles with ghosts, vampires, and exorcists in a series of suspenseful confrontations—including a descent into an underworld of trilobite fossils—that increase in intensity and eventually solidify her place in her strong maternal lineage of Native protectors. Cai’s grayscale spot illustrations imbue the book with shadowy breath and movement, bringing a lyrical undertone to the energetic plot and multifaceted, refreshing voice.
Publishers Weekly: Johnson bursts onto the scene with this thought-provoking, high-concept sci-fi debut that impresses with exceptional worldbuilding and a distinctive protagonist… This immersive, original adventure is sure to please readers looking for smart, diverse science fiction. Johnson is a writer to watch.
Locus: Rachel Morgan’s back in the Hollows for her 14th novel in the series, set before the happily-ever-after epilogue in the previous volume. She’s been outed as a demon and blamed for letting the demons free, the old church that was her home and office is unliveable, her living vampire housemate Ivy seems to be moving on, and money’s tight. Rachel’s relationship with Trent is good (finally), except for the not-so-little problem that the elves have all turned away from his leadership because of her. When some peculiar murders turn up, she’s eager to investigate, at least until the agency that hires her makes it clear they blame demons. The killers all had dreams that made them angry enough to kill loved ones, so something supernatural is up, but Rachel doesn’t believe demons caused it. Unfortunately, her usual source, Al, has disappeared, while a very strange, very old demon appears, hinting he has some inside knowledge. He’s clearly dangerous, but Rachel’s determined. Spells start flying, the politics get tangled, Rachel’s life is endangered, and the romance gets complicated. Once again, Rachel (with a little help from her friends) manages to pull off the impossible and save the day, if not without some personal loss in the end. Add some nice retribution against one smug asshole, in particular, and it’s an fun outing, a welcome and unexpected return to a world I’d thought we’d left behind.
Publishers Weekly: The dense but brilliant third volume of Dickinson’s The Masquerade series (after 2018’s The Monster Baru Cormorant) sees Baru Cormorant, haunted by memories of the woman she loved and lost, pushed even further into her self-destructive, all-consuming quest to save her family. In Baru’s effort to destroy the Imperial Republic of Falcrest from within, she has risen to the position of cryptarch, part of the invisible cabal that controls the Throne from the shadows. But as Baru pretends to serve her master, Cairdine Farrier, in his attempts to conquer the empire of Oriati Mbo, she privately plots against him. Baru has discovered the secrets of the Cancriotha cult of cancer worshippers secretly ruling Oriati Mboand the plague they’ve weaponized to wipe out their enemies. Caught between two implacable empires and facing betrayal at every turn, Baru must sacrifice everything and everyone she loves in order to bring down Falcrest. Dickinson weaves a byzantine tapestry of political intrigue, economic manipulation, and underhanded diplomacy. The narrative oscillates between past and present and alternates between numerous perspectives to create a harrowing picture of social conflict on a monumental scale. This staggering installment pushes the series to new heights and expands the fascinating fantasy world.
Library Journal: Still recovering from the battle with the elven goddess that destroyed a good portion of their church home, Rachel Morgan must confront the fact that her business with pixy Jenks and living vampire Ivy Tamwood is pretty much defunct. While her relationship with Trent Kalamack is still solid, Rachel knows that his place in elven society, his status and wealth, would be better served by taking herself out of the picture, especially as Trent’s former fiancée Ellasbeth seems to want to move right back into it. When a series of deaths from domestic disputes hit Cincinnati, Rachel is pulled into an investigation that will lead to nightmares, both living and literal, as Rachel must rely on her instincts, powers, and friends to stave off groups that want power at the cost of the Hallows.
VERDICT Hallows fans rejoice! Harrison (A Perfect Blood) neatly segues readers back into her world of coexisting humans and Inderlanders, with many of the beloved characters and all of the fast quips and high-stakes magical action of her previous books.