Carolyn Cushman Reviews Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine and Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

Rachel Caine, Smoke and Iron (Berkley 978-0-451-48921-0, $17.99, 432pp, hc) July 2018. Cover by Katie Anderson.

Jess takes the battle to the corrupt Great Library of Alexandria in this fourth of five volumes in the Great Library series. At the end of the last volume, Jess turned himself over to the Library – disguised as his brother Brendan, the heir to the Brightwell family of book smugglers. Jess also turned ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris, An Easy Death (Saga Press 978-1-4814-9492-2, $26.99, 306pp, hc) October 2018.

Harris turns to a different sort of Wild West set in an alternate-history world in which the US was shattered by the assassination of FDR and by the Great Depression. Sharpshooter Lizbeth “Gun­nie” Rose lives in the country of Texoma, a rough, near-lawless place barely hanging on between Mexico and New America, where gunslingers wish each other ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Competence by Gail Carriger and The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

Gail Carriger, Competence (Orbit US 978-0-316-43388-4, $26.00, 309pp, hc) July 2018. Cover by Don Sipley & Michael Roberts.

The steampunk fun ramps up in this third volume in the Custard Protocol series, a spin-off from Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. This time, the main focus shifts to Primrose Tunstell, purser of the airship The Spotted Custard and style-conscious friend of Captain Prudence Akeldama. Their airship needs repairs, and the damage is ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards

K.D. Edwards, The Last Sun (Pyr 978-1-63388-423-6, $17.00, 363pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Micah Epstein.

The last scion of a once-powerful house works as an investigator/agent in this entertaining first novel, a sort of urban fantasy set in a world that mixes modern technology (cell phones) with a strangely different culture. In this world, refuges from war-torn Atlantis used money and magic to turn Nantucket into New Atlantis, mostly ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Chosen Ones by Scarlett Thomas

Scarlett Thomas, The Chosen Ones (Canongate 978-1-78211-930-2, £12.99, 368pp, hc) April 2018; (Simon & Schuster 978-1-4814-9787-9, $17.99, 374pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Erwin Madrid.

Effie Truelove and her friends continue their efforts to understand the world of magic while working around obstructive adults, in this second book in the quirky middle-grade Worldquake tril­ogy. Effie Truelove wants to get back to the magi­cal Otherworld, but things keep going wrong; one ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

K.R. Richardson, Blood Orbit (Pyr 978-1-63388-439-7, $18.00, 492pp, tp) May 2018. Cover by Maurizio Manzieri.

Richardson, who has written urban fantasy as Kat Richardson, now turns to SF mystery in this first volume in the Gattis File series, set on the corpo­rate-owned planet Gattis, where corporate profits take precedence over justice. Rookie security ofiçe (not officer) Eric Matheson stumbles across a mass murder at a nightclub, and is assigned to ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow

Sarah Sparrow, A Guide for Murdered Children (Blue Rider 978-0-399-57452-8, $27.00, 385pp, hc) March 2018.

Murdered children take over the bodies of re­cently deceased adults in order to get revenge on their murderers in this truly strange novel. Ex-police detective Willow Millard Wylde is retired at 57, messed up with booze and pain pills and iffy health, in rehab when first encountered. Trying to do better for his grown daughter ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Phantom Files: Twain’s Treasure by William B. Wolfe

William B. Wolfe, The Phantom Files: Twain’s Treasure (Dreaming Robot Press 978-1-940924-29-8, $12.95, 247pp, tp) July 2018.

Mark Twain provides the focus for this amusing middle-grade fantasy novel, which follows a boy trying desperately to hide the fact he can see ghosts. Alex April can’t always tell the dead from the living, and that gets him into trouble because the ghosts always want things from him, and aren’t necessarily rational ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw

Vivian Shaw, Dreadful Company (Orbit US 978-0-316-43463-8, $15.99, 323pp, tp) July 2018. Cover by Will Staehle.

Dr. Greta Helsing goes to Paris for a medical conference on treating supernatural sorts and natu­rally runs into monsters, from an unexpected little wellmonster in her sink, to some overly cliché goth vampires with pretentious names and a leader with an old grudge against Lord Ruthven. He’s only in Paris long enough to take ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey, The Hills Have Spies (DAW 978-0-7564-1317-0, $27.00, 360pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Jody A. Lee.

Lackey returns to Valdemar with this first book in the Family Spies series, the ninth novel featuring Herald Mags, now a father with three children. His eldest, Perry, is only 13, but has been training to follow in his father’s footsteps all his life, and though he has yet to be Chosen ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff, The Privilege of Peace (DAW 978-0-7564-1153-4, $26.00, 342pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Paul Youll.

Torin Kerr – and the alien plastic – are back in this lively third novel in the Peacekeeper trilogy, itself a follow-up to the military SF Confederation novels. Torin and her Wardens Strike Team Al­pha continue their work keeping the peace when things get violent, but they’re having continued trouble from the group ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Red Waters Rising by Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman, Red Waters Rising (Saga 978-1-4814-2975-7, $16.99, 350pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Emma Ríos.

The Devil’s West trilogy concludes – sort of – with this novel, which finds Isobel and Gabriel head­ing south for the winter, ending Isobel’s training trip as the Devil’s Hand on the eastern edge of the Devil’s Territory, across the Big Muddy river from what would be New Orleans in our world. Isobel’s ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George

Jessica Day George, The Rose Legacy (Blooms­bury USA 978-1-59990-647-8, $18.99, 259pp, hc) May 2018. Cover by Kevin Keele.

Kids who dream of having horses should love this middle-grade fantasy novel about an unwanted orphan girl who ends up with an uncle she didn’t know she had, who raises forbidden animals: horses. This has an interesting setting in a king­dom vaguely reminiscent of an early-20th-century Great Britain, with trains and early ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist

Raymond E. Feist, King of Ashes (Harper Voyag­er 978-0-00-726485-8, £20.00, 545PP, hc) April 2018. (Harper Voyager US 978-0-06-146845-2, $29.99, 466pp, hc) May 2018.

Feist returns with the first volume in the new Firemane fantasy series, centered on a land that was once five kingdoms, until the Betrayal, which saw the king of Ithrace, known as Firemane, betrayed by some allies in a war with a neighbor­ing kingdom. One of the ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso

Melissa Caruso, The Defiant Heir (Orbit US 978-0-316-46690-5, $15.99, 515pp, tp) April 2018. Cover by Crystal Ben.

The second volume in the Swords & Fire fantasy trilogy finds Lady Amalia scrambling to stop a war with the Witch Lords of Vaskandar. Meanwhile, someone is killing Falconers and the magic-wielding Falcons they control, and reluctant Falconer Amalia and her powerful fire warlock Zaira are probable targets. Then Amalia meets a Witch ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Case of the Deadly Doppelgänger by Lucy Banks

Lucy Banks, The Case of the Deadly Doppelgänger (Amberjack 978-1-944995-47-8, $14.99, 328pp, tp) February 2018.

A woman wakes in the night to see a copy of herself and die – and all her husband vaguely remembers in the morning is “She’s been fetched.” Turns out she’s not the only victim and, even as the officials publicly play down any supernatural elements, they’re looking for help. This is the second book ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Night Fall by Simon R. Green

Simon R. Green, Night Fall (Ace 978-0-451-47697-5, $27.00, 453pp, hc) June 2018.

Green wraps up the Secret Histories and the Nightside series (and a few more) in a massive kitchen-sink of a battle between the righteous Droods and the lawless Nightside that brings together a host of old characters with a bunch of impossibly deadly weapons, a massive body count, and a healthy sprinkling of humor. Some­thing happens in the ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Reign of the Departed by Greg Keyes

Greg Keyes, The Reign of the Departed (Night Shade 978-1-59780-937-5, $14.99, 348pp, tp) June 2018. Cover by Micah Epstein.

Errol Greyson says he didn’t intend to commit suicide – but he wakes in a body carved of wood and joined by wire and bolts, and his classmate Aster tells him his real body’s in a coma. She’s originally from another world, and needs to re­turn there for the magic water ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Brief Cases by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher, Brief Cases (Ace 978-0-451-49210-4, $28.00, 437pp, hc) June 2018. Cover by Chris McGrath.

This new collection in the Dresden Files series offers 12 entertaining stories, some real gems. Three of my favorites, previously collected as Working for Bigfoot, are relatively light stories about Harry and a sasquatch who needs help for his half-human son. Several take the viewpoint of characters other than Harry Dresden, with a couple of ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop, Lake Silence (Ace 978-0-399-58724-5, $27.00, 402pp, hc) March 2018.

The need for understanding between humans and Others remains the crux of this first volume in a new arc in Bishop’s world of the Others. There are definite similarities with the previous volumes, such as the focus on bemused Others learning from a hu­man female needing protection from bad men, but new characters and the small-town setting offer intriguing ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler

D.J. Butler, Witchy Winter (Baen 978-1-4814-8314-8, $25.00,591pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

War and winter are coming in this second vol­ume in the epic flintlock fantasy series begun in Witchy Eye, which introduced this fascinating alternate history of a world where magic is real, and has greatly changed the course of history. Re­ligions are fascinatingly altered, and the magic, from various cultures, is intriguing. Despite the changes, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by A.P. Winter and Patricia Briggs

A.P. Winter, The Boy Who Went Magic (Chicken House UK 978-1910655092, £6.99, tp) June 2017; (Chicken House US 978-1-338-21714-8, $17.99, 279pp, hc) April 2018. Cover by Manuel Sumberac.

Magic is a myth repressed by the government in this rousing middle-grade fantasy, a solid first novel. Some 200 years before, when kings had real power, people believed in magic and the magical land of Ferenor. Bert Rumsey, an orphan raised at ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Marshall Ryan Maresca and Rowenna Miller

Marshall Ryan Maresca, Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe (DAW 978-0756412647, $7.99, 368pp, pb) March 2018. Cover by Paul Young.

The Holver Alley crew returns for a new caper in this second book in the Streets of Maradaine series, following the Rynax brothers and their odd assortment of friends as they search for the real culprit behind the burning of their homes and shops in Holver Alley. Ex-spy Asti Rynax is obsessed with ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Rachel Hartman and Elizabeth Moon

Rachel Hartman, Tess of the Road (Random House 978-1-101-93128-8, $18.99, 521pp, hc) February 2018.

Hartman follows up her young-adult fantasy duology begun in Serafina with this first in a new duology featuring Serafina’s younger half-sister, Tess. An irrepressible, curious, and imaginative child, Tess became the focus of her bitter and reli­giously repressive mother’s determination to pun­ish wrongdoing and turn her into a proper young lady, like her twin sister Jeanne. ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Michelle Sagara and Eliot Sappingfield

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Deception (Mira 978-0-7783-3110-0, $15.99, 506pp, tp) January 2018. Cover by Shane Rebeschied.

As always, a new crisis develops in this 13th vol­ume in the Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series, a novel with a serious case of middle-volume plot stall. Fortunately Kaylin’s irreverent attitude keeps things entertaining, even when the story bogs down. This time, Kaylin’s already-contro­versial household becomes the center of attention when one of her ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Wind in His Heart by Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint, The Wind in His Heart (Triskell Press 978-0920623787, $21.99, 544pp, tp) Sep­tember 2017.

The American Southwest provides a spectacular backdrop for de Lint’s latest contemporary fantasy novel, related to the Newford series, but with a focus on Native American magic. In Arizona on the Painted Lands Kikimi reservation, three people are forced to face their problems – and the existence of the other­world. Teen Thomas Corn eyes ...Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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