Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by W. Michael Gear, Seanan McGuire, Tamora Pierce & Ryk E. Spoor

W. Michael Gear, Outpost (DAW 978-0-7564-1337-8, $26.00, 422pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Steve Stone.

A deadly planet with a struggling corporate colony provides plenty of action in this first book in the Donovan trilogy. Much in the mode of Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Donovan isn’t a safe place for humans, full of deadly plants and animals, and if they don’t kill you, the heavy metals will. The Corporation has had ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Kelly Barnhill, Steven Brust & MaryJanice Davidson

Kelly Barnhill, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 978-1-61620-797-7, $24.95, 282pp, hc) February 2018. Cover by Sarah J. Coleman.

There’s always something worth savor­ing in the nine stories in this collection, the author’s first. Recurring images and themes – insects, animals, beauty, love and death, women, and transformation – linger after read­ing. “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” tells of a widow who gets involved with ...Read More

Read more

2017 Year-in-Review by Carolyn Cushman

Usually the bulk of my reading is fantasy, but some noteworthy SF titles snuck in this year. I particularly enjoyed Jim C. Hines’s Terminal Al­liance, a humorous military SF adventure featuring zombie janitors in space – but they’re wonderfully dangerous janitors, and the gradual revelation of the truth about how hu­manity came to this state is a gripping part of this first volume in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Tamora Pierce, Irene Radford, Margaret Rogerson, Mark Twain & Philip Stead

Tamora Pierce, et al., Tortall: A Spy’s Guide (Random House 978-0-375-86767-5, $24.99, 294pp, hc) October 2017.

Tamora Pierce, Julie Holderman, Timothy Li­ebe & Megan Messinger put together this selec­tion of items, a mix of correspondence, guides, and spy reports about people and creatures in Pierce’s country of Tortall, the setting for 18 young-adult books so far. In a sense, it’s full of spoilers, as brief biographies note who’s mar­ried to ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Rachel Caine, Kristin Cashore, Genevieve Cogman, Garth Nix & Sean Williams

Rachel Caine, Ash and Quill (Berkley 978-0-451-47241-0, $17.99, 341pp, hc) July 2017. Cover by Katie Anderson.

The third volume in the Great Library se­ries opens with rogue Library Scholar Jess Brightwell and his companions trapped in the city of Philadelphia, home of the Burner movement opposing the Great Library of Alexandria. The City has been under siege for years, and its people have no love for the Library; Jess and ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance (DAW 978-0-7564-1274-6, $26.00, 358pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

In a definite departure from his previous humor­ous fantasy novels, Hines’s new novel is military SF. OK, it’s humorous military SF, with zombie janitors. In space. But they’re not your usual sort of zombies, mostly. This first book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is set in a universe where a zombie ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Strange Music by Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster, Strange Music (Del Rey 978-1-101-96760-7, $27.00, 269pp, hc) Novem­ber 2017.

Pip and Flinx are back on a new adventure, the 15th novel in the series, part of Foster’s overall Humanx Commonwealth universe. Flinx is living quietly on the waterworld of Cachalot when he gets a visit from an old friend who asks him to go to the planet Largess, where a rogue human is not only violating ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Spark by David Drake

David Drake, The Spark (Baen 978-1-4814-8276-9, $25.00, 337pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

A young man seeks to become a Champion in this unusual novel mixing Arthuriana with an SF premise, but a definite fantasy feel. This universe appears to be a far future where shattered worlds are joined by a strange Road, the remnants, it seems, of an ancient empire with a degree of civilization and technology ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, A Plague of Giants (Del Rey 978-0-345-54860-3, $28.99, 616pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by David G. Stevenson & Gene Mollica.

Hearne’s new Seven Kennings series looks to be a considerable departure from his Iron Druid books, set in a fantasy world of varied realms. Each has a special kenning, magic powers that come to a select few: water-based in one land, plant-based in another, while others have pow­ers ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda

Julie E. Czerneda, To Guard Against the Dark (DAW 978-0-7564-0878-7, $26.00, 428pp, hc) October 2017. Cover by Matt Stawicki.

The Clan Chronicles wraps up with this ninth volume (third in the Reunification trilogy), which finds Jason Morgan still mourning from losing Sira when the Clan left their bodies to live in the dimension some call AllThereIs. Unlike some of the recent novels in the series, this volume doesn’t spend much ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell (DAW 978-0-7564-13431-6, $26.00, 354pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Family provides the focus for this 11th novel in the October Daye series, which opens with Toby’s bachelorette party, complete with karaoke and a very odd assortment of friends. Back home that night, though, things go downhill fast when Toby’s mother Amandine turns up. The youngest of the children of Oberon and Titania, Amandine ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones, Murder, Magic, and What We Wore (Knopf 978-0-553-53520-4, $17.99, 287pp, hc) September 2017. Cover by Sarah Watts.

A young lady in 1818 London learns her father is dead and she’s now destitute in this charming young-adult fantasy Regency mystery/spy novel. Annis Whitworth isn’t the sort to give in easily to her change in circumstance; she’s figured out that her father was a spy, and she’s found a clue ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Wellside by Robin Shortt

Robin Shortt, Wellside (Candlemark & Gleam 978-1-936460-77-9, $19.95, 293pp, tp) June 2017. Cover by Jenny Zemanek.

High school’s bad enough at the best of times, but Ben’s having real problems. His parents are getting divorced and playing tug-of-war with his time, overbooking him for tutors and classes and meetings with lawyers – the last both for the divorce and for criminal defense, since Ben got caught hacking into a company’s ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman reviews The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Laurie Forest, The Black Witch (Harlequin Teen, 978-0-373-21231-6, $19.99, 601pp, hc) May 2017.

Oppressed teens begin to see the world differ­ently at university in this first book in the young-adult Black Witch Chronicles series. The story centers on Elloren Gardner, granddaughter of the last Black Witch. Elloren looks eerily like her late grandmother but lacks any magical ability herself. However, the reader knows she does have magic, a lot of ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

The Innkeeper Chronicles, Volume One, Ilona Andrews (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-836-0, $75.00, 773pp, hc) May 2017. Cover by Doris Mantair.

An inn for otherworlders visiting Earth takes center stage in this thoroughly entertaining omnibus collecting Andrews’s first three novels in the Innkeeper Chronicles series: Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, and One Fell Sweep. (All three were originally published as serials on Andrews’s website, then self-published.) Despite this volume’s considerable heft, it’s ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Lackey, Meadows, Nielsen, Novik, Ribar

Mercedes Lackey, Elite (Disney/Hyperion 978-1-4847-0785-2, $17.99, 360pp, hc) September 2016. Cover by Shane Rebenschied.

Joy, now a member of the Elite Hunter unit, faces ever more dangerous Othersider attacks in this second book in the young-adult dystopian Hunter series. It’s nearly non-stop action this time, with new monsters outside and intrigue inside to deal with. The Elite don’t even bother hitting up the clubs to improve their popularity rankings; they’re ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman Reviews Armstrong, Black & Clare, Durst, Elliott, Evans

Michael A. Armstrong, Truck Stop Earth (Perseid Press 978-0-9975310-1-5, $25.20, 275pp, tp) July 2016.

Michael Armstrong’s latest novel set in Alaska is science fiction – at least if you believe the narrator, who could just be extremely unreliable. James Ignatius Malachi Obadiah Osborne (call me Jimmo) is hitching ever further north when he finally ends up in Della AK. The residents there are interestingly strange, what Jimmo calls GETS (genuinely, ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman reviews Funke, Galenorn, Hines, McGuire, Sagara

Cornelia Funke, Reckless: The Golden Yarn (Breathing Books 978-0989165624, 448pp, $17.99, hc) December 2015.

Funke disagreed with her previous publish­ers, who wanted to publish this series as middle grade – when it’s more clearly young-adult. So now she’s self-publishing, which may be a mis­take. At least, the galley could have used better copy-editing to smooth out the translation. This third volume in the series has three of the Reck­less men ...Read More

Read more

Reviews by Carolyn Cushman, February 2016

Carol Berg, Ash and Silver (978-0-451-41726-8, $16.00, 475pp, tp) December 2015. Cover by Gene Molllica.This sequel to Dust and Light takes a pretty dramatic turn. Lucien’s art and job working with the coroner are forgotten – literally, as Lucien has had his memories removed by the Order of the Knights of the Ashes. The meek artist is now a knight in training, with a new name, and a memory full ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman reviews Terry Pratchett, Sarah Prineas, David Weber

Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown (Harper 978-0-06-242997-1, $18.00, 276pp, hc) September 2015. Cover by Jim Tierney.

Pratchett’s last Discworld novel is fifth in the Tiffany Aching series, and it comes with a major spoiler that is a little hard to talk around, for the few fans who haven’t already heard, but I’ll try. Tiffany Aching finds herself leading all the witches she can gather as elves – not the nice, ...Read More

Read more

Carolyn Cushman reviews Julie E. Czerneda, Tanya Huff, Yanni Kuznia

Julie E. Czerneda, This Gulf of Time and the Stars (DAW 978-0-7564-0869-5, $25.95, 453pp, hc) November 2015. Cover by Matt Stawicki.

Someone is hunting the M’hiray, the people who can teleport themselves through the M’hir. Whoever this someone is, they have influence and money to send killers after many all at once. Sira di Sarc and her human telepath Chosen, Jason Morgan, try to save as many of the M’hiray ...Read More

Read more