In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power-the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave.
If you took the godly and human affairs of Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy, paired them like a fine wine with the intricate and complex magical mechanics of Brandon Sanderson, and made the main course a Hannibal-esque murder mystery in a well-realized, complex city on the edge of a China Miéville-esque disaster, you would get The Helm of Midnight ... Rich with lore and worldbuilding, Lotstetter lets her epic fantasy flag fly in this engrossing, engaging, and dark story of sisters, trauma, magic, and murder ... from the very first page, Lotstetter brings you smoothly into this new world of gods and investigators and death-masks, where the talents of the dead can be wrestled into use by the living ... Lotstetter brings in new players and swivels the spotlight among them with nimble prose and rich detail, giving the reader just enough new information and mystery in each separate story thread to keep them pinned to the page. It is not an easy feat, and Lotstetter manages it seamlessly ... As detailed as the world is, the story wouldn’t work unless the characters were compelling, and in Krona, Melanie, and yes, even Louis Charbon, Lotstetter has created a cast of characters pushed to their limits, each fearing with the consequences of their failure ... that Lotstetter uses each thread to further the plot and explain/explore the mechanics of her world and magic system is genius and works beautifully ... If there are a few moments of the narrative where Lotstetter elects to be more straightforward, to tell the reader something directly about the world or the magic or a character, it never slows anything down, nor breaks any level of immersion ... an engaging, enthralling first installment in a world I wanted to keep reading about for ages more. If your epic fantasy tastes run in the same vein as your murder mysteries, this gem from Lotstetter is sure to make its way to the top of your TBR pile.
... well-executed ... Lostetter brings together a cast of relatable, remarkably human characters across three separate timelines to tell a beautiful story of struggle, loss and, eventually, triumph ... While the setting is rich and full of layered, complex culture, the core draw of The Helm of Midnight lies in its characters and their plights ... While clearly setting up for a series, Lostetter tells a complete and satisfying story within the 400 or so pages of The Helm of Midnight. Tears, smiles and surprise await any reader that opens this book.
Weaving the tale through three separate stories—those of Krona, an apprentice healer named Melanie, and Charbon himself—Lostetter ties them all together masterfully in the end. While the story may lag a bit in some parts, it is well worth the effort to push through, and readers will be left wanting more after the novel’s cliffhanging conclusion.