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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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