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 in the MirrorWorld – John Reckless, the father of Jacob and Wilhelm, has been making a pseudonymous reputation for himself, selling our world’s military technology to the less sci­entifically advanced nations in the MirrorWorld. He erroneously believes his sons are dead, but Will is chasing the Dark Fairy, who is heading east into a fairy-tale version of Russia. Jacob is chasing Will, and stealing an artifact from the Tzar along the way – it’s all too complicated, with the viewpoint shifting between a variety of characters, but a lot of little encounters with various magical creatures and devices keeps things entertaining.

Yasmine Galenorn, Autumn Thorns (Jove 978-0-515-15624-9, 296pp, $7.99, pb) November 2015. Cover by Tony Mauro.

Galenorn, who already has quite a number of books in her Otherworld series, now changes gears for her new Whisper Hollow paranormal series. Kerris Fellwater left home at 18 because of her grandfather, a mean old bastard. She’s been making a living in Seattle as a barrista, with some moonlighting as a ghost hunter, when she gets notice that both grandparents who raised her have died in an accident. So she pulls up stakes and moves back to Whisper Hollow on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Kerris has some idea what she faces – the women in her family are all spirit shamans. She’ll have helpers – a lament singer, and a guardian shapeshifter wolf. But when she gets back to her old home, she discovers new things about her mother’s disap­pearance when she was three, her unknown father, her grandfather, and the power structure in this town. And her guardian wolf turns out to be hunky – made for her, by magic: it’s the para­normal romance part of the tale, which seemed more urban fantasy up to that point. It’s a pretty familiar plot, but Galenorn paces things well, for a good read.

Jim C. Hines, Revisionary (DAW 978-0-7564-0970-8, $26.00, 344pp, hc) February 2016. Cover by Gene Mollica.

Book four of the Magic ex Libris series finds Isaac Vainio dealing with the aftermath of reveal­ing magic to the world. He’s part of the New Mil­lennium project in Nevada, working as Director of Research and Development. Politics are maybe the biggest threat to various magical types, but there are also attacks on various species, such as werewolves, different vampire types, and sirens. The military wants to militarize magic, and more benign uses of magics are being held up by government restrictions. Magical cures can’t be used until approved by the NIH. Engineering, archaeology, and astronomy are also stymied. Isaac’s not going to put up with government ef­forts to take over, so he and his small group of friends start taking action themselves. There are still occasional touches of humor, but this outing is mostly a mix of action and talky bits as Isaac and friends try to figure out who’s behind what.

Seanan McGuire, Chaos Choreography (DAW 978-0-7564-0813-8, $7.99, 353pp, pb) March 2016. Cover by Aly Fell.

Verity Price is back in this fifth novel in the Incryptid series. Only she’s back to being Valerie Pryor, ballroom dancer. She went on the TV show Dance or Die years before, came in second, and decided it was time to focus on on her work with cryptids. Now the show is planning to run a special all-star season, with the top four contestants from each year, and Verity can’t pass up this chance to dance again. She’s not the only one with secrets in this contest – there’s a shark shapeshifter, a chupa­cabra, and a dragon princess involved. It looks like a fun season, until the bodies start turning up, with what looks like cult markings. But the show must go on; for the readers, it’s loads of fun, with the added entertainment of meeting another interesting member of Verity’s family.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Honor (Mira 978-0-7763-1859-0, $15.99, 511pp, tp) December 2015.

The city of Elantra is threatened with destruction once again in this 11th book in the Chronicles of Elantra series. The city is still picking up the pieces after the previous attack of Shadows, but law officer Kaylin recovers at home in her new sentient house, Helen – and with the friends who have moved in with her. Then her first day back on the job brings her a case involving the deaths of three young men and their unusual neighbors across the street – one of them a Shadow who seems quite human. On top of all that, something’s goes wrong with Evanton’s garden of the elements and the whole city is threat­ened with destruction unless Kaylin can stop it in time. The scale’s not at grand as in the previous volume in the series, but it’s a fun thrill ride even so.

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