RaveBookPage\"Once again, Bardugo shows she’s one of the best world builders in the business. Her version of Yale and its people is so richly rendered, it’s difficult to tell what’s real and what’s imagined. Not a page goes by without a line from Yeats or a fact about the architectural history of New Haven or a bit of biblical allusion. And yet, the book whizzes along, marvelously balancing these details with The Da Vinci Code-esque clue-hunting, demonic rituals and lectures from a particularly uptight school administrator. Gut-wrenching and deeply human, this book will tug at your heartstrings even as it chills you to the bone ... Standing head and shoulders above the already impressive Ninth House, Hell Bent is one of the best fantasy novels of the year.\
C. L. Polk
RaveBookPageA stylish magical noir with a heartbreakingly human love story at the center ... Even Though I Knew the End rockets along from the very first page, and Polk’s ability to enrich the story while upping the pace is impressive ... Each detail [is] woven into the narrative exactly when it’s required. A sense of mystery and discovery is ever present ... Fantastically rendered depiction of a celestial war ... Immediately compelling ... Gripping final chapters.
RaveBookPageA vibrant, shape-shifting collage of family saga, Jewish folklore and magical adventure, GennaRose Nethercott’s debut novel, Thistlefoot, is, like its namesake, weird and wonderful ... In the chapters narrated by the house, Thistlefoot tells stories of Baba Yaga, her daughters and her at-times frightful sense of justice. These interludes, vividly voiced and perfectly paced, are some of the book’s best moments. Nethercott’s warm embrace of her source material makes these fairy tale-esque stories welcome interludes amid Isaac and Bellatine’s more modern woes ... Nethercott’s gorgeous writing continually surprises and delights, and she pulls off some amazing turns of phrase with confidence. The first few pages give a brief history of an invasive plant that everyone thinks of as uniquely American but is actually from another country entirely—and they’re so engagingly written that I was immediately hooked. Even if a few passages feel overwrought, something marvelous comes along in short order to make up for it, such as a queer love story in which Nethercott patiently brings to life the tender joy of a new romance ... a triumph. Strange and heart-wrenching, perplexing and beautiful, it’s an open door and a warm hearth, inviting you to stay awhile and listen.
R. F. Kuang
RaveBookPageA methodical, unforgiving examination of the cost of power and the pain of achieving it ... Babel feels different from her first trilogy, but this is undoubtedly a Kuang novel. There\'s a sense of inevitability in her work, each book moving toward a climactic breaking point.
PositiveBookPage... [a] cheeky, breezy sci-fi mystery ... moves at a fast pace, and the proceedings are never complex just for the sake of it. The mystery\'s twists and turns are satisfying throughout, and Robson keeps a tight grip on the reins as Lydia discovers more and more pieces to the puzzle. There are many truly surprising moments both funny and strange (one of which totally floored this reviewer) ... combines the sci-fi and mystery genres in a way that does justice to both of them, and that\'s no small feat. Perfect for anyone looking for a fun, thought-provoking and unintimidating foray into sci-fi, this book will have readers smiling on every page, drunk on Robson\'s clever words.
RaveBookPage... O’Donnell’s strange, tense and utterly beautiful novel The Maker of Swans will haunt you. It dances over the line between literary fiction and magical fantasy, but you’ll hardly notice. You’ll be too busy sinking deeper into its inescapable grasp ... This book is far more expansive than its 368 pages might suggest, and all credit goes to O’Donnell for cramming it full with as many ideas as he did. Alongside the magical elements are questions on the nature of the universe, on art and beauty, on instinct and knowledge. O’Donnell’s complex and agile prose jumps between dreamlike mysticism and terse, suspenseful action almost without warning. He knows when to expand language and when to contract it, when to throw in the kitchen sink and when to hold back ... Two key elements hold everything together. The first is how O’Donnell drives the story forward like a thriller, giving the more abstract elements a solid foundation. Even as things get stranger and stranger, the core plot is straightforward ... Let The Maker of Swans invade you. Be challenged by it. Let it wash over you. If you like beautiful things, read this book.
RaveBookPage... wondrous, sinister and engrossing ... Black presents a decidedly mature perspective on our relationships with our silhouettes. It’s a wildly entertaining, magic-filled mystery haunted by criminals with murky intentions ... A consistent atmosphere of dread and foreboding reinforces the core magic system, giving shadow magic a sharp, dangerous edge. Black unspools the mystery patiently and deliberately ... Black’s plot is expertly crafted, her magic system simple yet interesting, her characters wounded and very human (well, most of them anyway). Mystery fans will find a lot to love here, but so will lovers of more traditional fantasy. Book of Night will have you looking over your shoulder, out of the corner of your eye, wondering if your shadow just moved.
PositiveBookPage... funny and endearing ... It’s impossible to read this book without sensing how much fun Scalzi was having while writing it. The Kaiju Preservation Society revels in its own nerdiness, joyfully calling out the absurdities that Jamie and the other new KPS employees experience in their journey to the other Earth. The dialogue practically skips along, with jokes and minor insults pinging off each character at a near-constant pace. And the richness of the alternate Earth, with all its odd flora and fauna, is clearly the result of a creative mind let loose ... What better way to escape the feeling of being trapped inside, from pandemic-related reasons or anything else, than to go somewhere vibrant and unique, where you can feel loved by your friends, valued by your job and morally unassailable as you fight to preserve vulnerable wildlife? It certainly works for Jamie, and it will work for anyone lucky enough to pick up a copy of The Kaiju Preservation Society.
RaveBookPageThe Green Bone books are densely populated, but Jade Legacy thankfully includes a list of characters, which readers will find supremely helpful to flip back to. By this point, there are so many characters who have come and gone, but Lee always knows when to let a personal moment stretch out between central characters and gives fan-favorites plenty of room to shine. Anything seems possible in this last volume, and Lee ratchets up the pressure to 10 ... Quite simply, Jade Legacy is the best book in Lee\'s fantastic trilogy. It\'s the most complex, offers the most surprises and confidently navigates an intricate story with a huge number of characters and factions.
RaveBookPage... the excitement doesn’t ebb for even a moment ... it’s definitely recommended that readers tackle the first book before turning to this one. It’ll be completely worth it, because Fleet does a superlative job of expanding on everything that was interesting in Dewes’ debut—and this book is even more engaging and often, more personal ... Dewes has an aptitude both for excellent naval-inspired action sequences as well as for quieter interludes between characters. The amount of time she gives her characters to simply speak to one another makes the bonds they forge that much more believable ... Here’s hoping the next book in this excellent series keeps propelling us even further into the stars.
Bo-Young Kim tr. Sophie Bowman and Sung Ryu
RaveBookPage... expansive, captivating ... These are big questions, but Bo-Young’s attempt to bring shape to them in these stories is stunning, humbling and utterly beautiful ... The collection’s translator, Sophie Bowman, should be commended on shepherding these stories so gracefully into English. They introduce complex and ambitious ideas about space travel, philosophical and metaphysical riddles playing out in worlds inhabited by gods . . . you get the idea. But even when it’s challenging, Bo-Young’s prose is always oh-so-gorgeous ... This is some of the most beautiful science fiction writing that I’ve read recently. Not every element between the pairs of stories is analogous, but sometimes, just there, right under the surface, Bo-Young has hidden common threads. The bookended stories of lovers traveling through space in time and the feelings of longing and trust in the face of astronomically impossible circumstances are particularly lovely. Even in the huge expanse of space, the second-person voices in their letters are intimate and genuine, and the emotional power of each story’s closing moments is hefty. Grab your tissues, because you may be thoroughly moved ... isn’t just a statement of action. It’s a promise: I’m waiting on your behalf, to be with you, to experience the universe’s purpose for me through you. If only we can live up to such a promise.
Sarah Beth Durst
RaveBookPageIn Sarah Beth Durst’s The Bone Maker, it’s the demons we battle after triumphing over our greatest hardships that are the most challenging to defeat ... Readers will be hooked ... Durst displays a mastery of emotional resonance throughout the book, bringing each character’s scars to the surface even in moments of levity. You never really forget the toll the past has taken on each person.
R. F. Kuang
RaveBookPageIn The Burning God, the third and final entry in the Poppy War trilogy, R.F. Kuang finds new ways to bring life, horror and excitement to this saga about a nation torn apart by war ... Though The Burning God treads new ground in many ways, Kuang constantly references people, places and things from the previous books. Of course, this is really helpful for readers who haven’t been back to Nikan in some time, but it also creates a sense of history. All of the things Rin has done and all the people who have built her feel ever-present in her mind as she makes decisions both small and large. It also feels nostalgic, wistful even ... The Burning God is the best-written book of the trilogy ... This place and this protagonist are singular in fantasy literature, and I hope we’ll get to return to Nikan someday. Better yet, I hope we get to return to the future Nikan that this book promises. I’m sure the Phoenix will be waiting, ready to set the world on fire.
Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
PositiveBookPageBalance is the heartbeat of this story. The yin and yang-esque relationship between two magical elements, seidur and galdur, plays a central role in the magic system, but it also serves as the backdrop for a plethora of counteracting forces. The Crown and the rebels, the modern and the ancient, human and nonhuman, and Garún and Sæmundur themselves add to a thematically contiguous world. As a result, Short Days feels orderly and orchestrated from the get-go ... The tone of each of the two narrative voices also exhibits this balance ... This sense of symmetry is balanced by how otherwise layered and lived-in this world feels. One of my favorite parts of sci-fi cinema is seeing the grunge of a cantina or the dirty streets of a futuristic town. Every corner of this vision of Reykjavik has a different magical creature, a different alchemical concoction, a new piece of lore to be uncovered. Hrimlandic, which reads like a combination of Old Norse and Gaelic, fills nearly every page of the book, adding to the sense of abundant discovery. Dan Vilhjálmsson includes a rich glossary filled with Hrimlandic terminology, as well as a compendium of magical creatures and a \'Citizen’s Primer\' full of advice for pronouncing some of the wonderfully complicated words throughout.
RaveBookPageA ship’s crew is like a family. They fight together, succeed together, love together and, if things go wrong, die together. As with previous installments of Alex White’s Salvagers trilogy, the crew of the starship Capricious does a little bit of all of these. The stakes have never been higher than in this last entry, The Worst of All Possible Worlds. But one of the best parts about reading books in a series is that by the end, you feel like part of the family, too ... Worlds is a high-water mark for emotional precision in the space opera subgenre. White injects so much heart into their characters, and the toll the mission takes on them feels immediate and challenging. We’re far beyond the getting-to-know-you phase, and White takes full advantage. That said, this book contains a flood of incredible moments. It’s hard to go 20 pages without finding a brilliant action set piece, and the driving pace is such that you never have a chance to guess what’s going to happen next ... one of the best sci-fi trilogies released in the last several years.
RaveBookPage... mysterious and wonderful ... Even from the very first page, I was hooked for one reason: the initial premise here is simple, full of tension and immediately engaging. Even as the central goal of not opening the door plays out, Caruso builds a vivid universe around it, filling the pages with personality and depth. Like a good mystery, Tower slowly feeds the reader with more and more clues, never fully revealing everything at once. Caruso builds and releases tension deftly on both large and small scales. Even short conversations Ryx has with scheming foreign nobles expand and contract as political and personal issues are explored ... This book has moments of real pain and longing that have nothing to do with magic or towers ... At the time of this writing, I’m restricted to my house as a global sickness isolates nearly everyone from each other. I can’t help but think that, on a smaller scale, Ryx’s isolation is something many readers can imagine first hand.
PositiveBookPage... intricate and deftly ... The details that Barron chooses to populate the story with at first feel disparate and random, but his vivid choices turn out to pay dividends as the story goes on. For example, Coleridge’s knowledge of ancient mythology bleeds over into the narrative and even starts to influence the reader’s perspective on the plot. Though I admit I thought certain details simply created clutter, I’m happy with the risks Barron took in the name of atmosphere and payoff. I’ll admit I have not always stayed up to date on modern mystery. I’m more frequently conscripted to review the sci-fi and fantasy genres, where entire universes are rendered for the first time onto the page. However, there’s something about Worse Angels that feels similar to my usual gig. Feeling like a character is strong enough to guide you through the unknown is as relevant here as it is in more fantastic settings.
N. K. Jemisin
RaveBookPageI’ve not read another book like this in years. Jemisin takes a concept that can be abstracted to the simplest of questions (What if cities were alive?) and wraps an adventure around it. That adventure takes center stage in the many scenes that read more like a superhero movie than a fantasy novel ... However, Jemisin’s most beautiful passages deliver attentive descriptions of New York’s melting pot of people. Her characters’ life experiences—racial, sexual, financial—bring perspectives that are deeply important to and often missing from contemporary literature, particularly in the fantasy genre.
PositiveBookPageIt seems every new generation gets to witness at least one incredible technological advancement ... Soule builds a world around a similarly staggering invention, but it’s his interest in the people who create it, use it and profit from it that captivates the reader ... It is impossible to write about Anyone without first acknowledging the depth of thought and structure Soule has put into flash technology and its potential impact on the world.
Bennett R. Coles
RaveBookPageColes cleverly preserves many of the naval traditions that have become synonymous with historical seafaring adventure stories. The leadership structure aboard Daring, the divisions between the sailors and the officers, and even the commands shouted out in the middle of battle feel ripped from the pages of a Patrick O’Brien novel. In fact, the environment of the ship is perhaps Coles’ greatest achievement in Winds of Marque ... Winds of Marque maintains a brisk pace from the get-go. Action scenes are crisp and tense, with special attention paid to the visceral feeling of hand-to-hand combat and firing cannon batteries ... Coles achieves a real sense of camaraderie amongst his characters and I found myself wanting to see more banter even before the book was over.
Howard Andrew Jones
RaveBookPageDo you ever find yourself wondering what the next blockbuster epic fantasy series will be? Howard Andrew Jones’ For the Killing of Kings might be it ... This is a traditional epic fantasy with all the stops pulled out—an interesting magic system, squabbling warrior factions—but its vivid, varied characters set it apart. And Jones puts additional weight into the history just prior to the story’s setting, adding mystery and depth to this perfect introduction to a new fantasy universe.
PositiveBookPageRichly textured ... Bear gives her characters the space to develop on their own terms, never missing a chance to world build in the interim. It’s often by the slimmest of margins that our heroes avoid disaster, and only a thin layer of metal separates the \'slowbrains\' (read: things that breath air, according to Singer) from the vastness of space. But the profound connection between man and machine at its heart will keep readers turning the pages.
PositiveBookPage\"... a unique fantasy debut ... Leckie’s confidence pays off here, establishing her unique perspective in an entirely new genre.\
PositiveBookPageHere’s the good news about Alex White’s A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy: You get to feel unbelievably cool reading it. This genre-mixing sequel to White’s A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe turns up the action and attitude to 10 and never lets up, making for one hell of a ride ... This is a well-developed world with layer upon layer of detail and nuance. Not only does White meticulously script small things like how the crew communicates in combat situations, but he’s also managed to build out large-scale geopolitical movements with similar ease ... It can sometimes be a bit daunting when details rush past in the heat of battle, but the payoff is a feeling of being plugged into the action. Some might say a magic system doesn’t belong in a space opera, but White makes it work ... at its core, it’s a story about a close-knit group of people, with both talents and scars, just trying to do the right thing. That’s what had me reading past my bedtime. It’s anything but a bad deal for the reader.
PositiveBookPageFun and atmospheric ... The vision Tanzer paints of Long Island during Prohibition is nostalgic, tactile and just a little bit creepy. One can almost hear the creak of Ellie’s boat or the tinkle of Fin’s expensive champagne flutes as we float into and out of each character’s perspectives. That being said, the setting never overtakes the interplay between the characters...No one is perfect in this vision of the past ... The back-and-forth between the two heroines is worth celebrating ... does a wonderful job of knowing when to lean into an action sequence and when to step back and let the characters inhabit the world ... relevant in today’s divided public forum.
RaveBookpageAt first glance, the town of Dubossary might appear to be a simple Jewish town at the edge of the woods. Pious and cheerful villagers bustle about in the snow, going to market and celebrating shabbas together. But for sisters Liba and Laya, who live in the forest outside of town, things aren’t quite as idyllic as they seem. Odd noises and rumors of wandering strangers suddenly make life in the woods a little less welcoming. Maybe the folk tales are true after all? ... Rossner’s The Sisters of the Winter Wood is a dreamlike ode to sisterhood, mythology and family that you won’t be able to put down.
PositiveBookPageCarey has put to page one of the best pairs of protagonists in the last few years. Her lush, vibrant world just serves as the perfect backdrop for a relationship worthy of the prophecies it fulfills.
R. F. Kuang
PositiveBookPageR.F. Kuang must first be congratulated on seamlessly drawing on and then reshaping Chinese history as influence for the world Rin [the protagonist] inhabits ... Her tenacity, stubbornness and insecurity are instantly sympathetic and Kuang’s attention to Rin’s feelings opens up oceans of emotional depth ... It would be a thrill to see Rin, fresh from the crucible of The Poppy War, on the pages of a sequel novel.
RaveBookPageIt’s a harsh setting, but Aoleyn, the fiery and engaging female lead of R.A. Salvatore’s Child of a Mad God, makes each moment spent in this world a treasure ... When her immense magical powers manifest in her 18th year, she finally discovers a way to break free of the tribe’s iron grip and confront the evil presence infecting her homeland ... This is fantasy refreshed, with familiar concepts reconfigured for a new arc. Luckily, we’ll have a wonderful heroine to pull us along for the ride.
RaveBookPage\"Nick Harkaway’s kaleidoscopic, mind-bending novel, pulls the reader into a mental vortex and never lets go ... Reading Gnomon is a bit like driving a car at high speed—at some point, you’re just trying to hold on. The narrative barrels forward, building feverishly with the multilayered dimensions of Hunter’s mind. Neith serves as the reader’s safe harbor, a calm and determined truth-seeker who balances the book’s many perspectives ... With Gnomon, he has landed in the sci-fi pantheon. Glimpses of William Gibson, Ridley Scott and Alan Moore abound, but in the end, Harkaway has found a deep, sometimes terrifying future-scape all for himself, one that surprises and challenges right to the last firing synapse.\