Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Liar of Red Valley and The Last Graduate

Walter Goodwater, The Liar of Red Valley (Solaris 978-1-78108-911-8, $24.99, 359pp, hc) September 2021.

Red Valley, a dying town in rural California, pro­vides the colorful backdrop for this twisted dark fantasy novel. Sadie lives an outsider’s life as the daughter of the town’s Liar, but then her mother dies. Suddenly, Sadie learns she has to be the Liar, only her mother never told her how to take people’s lies, the ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton and Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne

Laurell K. Hamilton, A Terrible Fall of Angels (Berkley 978-1-9848-0446-4, $28.00, 388pp, hc) August 2021.

A world where angels, demons, and other su­pernatural beings interact with humans provides a fascinating backdrop for this novel, the first in a new urban fantasy series. Detective Zaniel ‘‘Havoc’’ Havelock was taken as a child to train to be an Angel Speaker, one of the special few who can communicate directly with angels, but ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Even and Odd by Sarah Beth Durst and Better Together by Christine Riccio

Sarah Beth Durst, Even and Odd (Clarion 978-0-358-35038-5, $16.99, 274pp, hc) June 2021. Cover by Brandon Dorman.

Kids save their worlds from failing magic in this amusing middle-grade fantasy novel, and while the plot might be a little simplistic for older readers, the story’s full of quirky characters and unexpected encounters that make up for it. The sisters ‘‘Even’’ (Emma) and ‘‘Odd’’ (Olivia) share their magic, getting their nicknames because ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Sapphire Ring by C. Dale Brittain

C. Dale Brittain, The Sapphire Ring (Daimbert Publishing 979-8-7211-2328-3, $14.95, 293pp, tp) April 2021.

The third volume in the Starlight Raven series in the Yurt universe finds Antonia no longer the only girl at the wizards’ school run by her father. Still, she’s concerned about the remaining divide between women’s magic and men’s. Then she gets kidnapped by a strange group of women, members of the magic-using Sisterhood, but with ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Double Threat by F. Paul Wilson

F. Paul Wilson, Double Threat (Forge 978-1-250-77664-8, $27.99, 365pp, hc) June 2021.

Wilson returns to his first novel, Healer, with a drastic rewrite that sets the story on contemporary Earth and also mixes in elements from the novella Wardenclyffe in his Secret History series, which adds a touch of cosmic horror and the work of Nikola Tesla to the mix. What makes the connec­tion to Healer clear, though, is ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Million Dollar Demon by Kim Harrison and Cast in Conflict by Michelle Sagara

Kim Harrison, Million Dollar Demon (Ace 978-0-593-10144-5, $28.00, 464pp, hc) June 2021.

Rachel Morgan’s got plenty of problems in this 15th book in the Hollows series. Everyone now knows she’s a demon, the church that was her home and office is in ruins and no contractor will work on it, her efforts to find a new place keep falling through, she’s on the outs with her demon mentor, her rich ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Angel of the Overpass and Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire, and Trouble in the Stars by Sarah Prineas

Seanan McGuire, Angel of the Overpass (DAW 978-0-7564-1689-8, $17.00, 309pp, tp) May 2021. Cover by Amber Whitney.

The third book in the Ghost Roads series finds Rose Marshall, the hitchhiking ghost also known as the Girl in the Green Silk Dress, facing serious changes in her world. Word has come down that the Crossroads is dead (seen in InCryptid novel That Ain’t Witchcraft). No one’s sure what the death ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Miss Bennet’s Dragon by M Verant

M Verant, Miss Bennet’s Dragon (Acerbic Press 978-1-7366629-1-5, $17.99, 367pp, tp) May 2021.

There’s something about Jane Austen, particularly her Pride and Prejudice, that other authors can’t resisting playing with. M Verant shows a great love for the work and period in this charming retelling, while adding dragons and somewhat modernizing the actual writing. Most of the familiar characters are here, but we’re seeing them from slightly differ­ent angles. ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Queen’s Bargain by Anne Bishop and Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore

Anne Bishop, The Queen’s Bargain (Ace 978-1-9848-0662-8, $27.00, 414pp, hc) March 2020.

Bishop returns to her popular Black Jewels series with an eighth novel that picks up with the surviving main characters a few years later. The issues of sexual power and abuse remain prominent, but they get a couple of new twists here, with the introduction of a young Warlord, Lord Dillon, who was promised marriage and used sexually ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Knife Children and The Orphans of Raspay by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold, Knife Children (Spectrum Literary Agency) 2019. (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-954-1, $25.00, 208pp, hc) February 2020. Cover by Ryan Pentacoast.

Bujold’s latest two novellas finally out in print both involve grown men taking care of girls, but otherwise the tales are quite different. Knife Children adds to the Sharing Knife series, picking up with Barr, a young scapegrace Lakewalker from the original series, now a 33-year-old patroller back from ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Voodoo Shanghai by Kristi Charish and Forced Perspectives by Tim Powers

Kristi Charish, Voodoo Shanghai (Vintage Canada 978-0-345-81592-7, $14.95, 415pp, tp) February 2020.

In this third volume in the Kincaid Strange urban fantasy/mystery series, the Seattle voodoo practitioner is getting tired of being pushed around by the local cops (one her ex-boyfriend) and her new uber-cranky ghost-boss, the sorcerer Gideon Lawrence, who’s teaching her new ways to use mirrors to manage ghosts. Then there’s the Singaporean family whose spoiled teenage daughter ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews American Demon by Kim Harrison and Spells for the Dead by Faith Hunter

Kim Harrison, American Demon (Ace 978-0- 593-10141-4, $28.00, 473pp, hc) June 2020. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Rachel Morgan’s back in the Hollows for her 14th novel in the series, set before the happily-ever- after epilogue in the previous volume. She’s been outed as a demon and blamed for letting the demons free, the old church that was her home and office is unliveable, her living vampire housemate Ivy seems to ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer, Titan’s Day by Dan Stout, and Network Effect by Martha Wells

Caroline Stevermer, The Glass Magician (Tor 978-0-7653-3504-3, $26.99, 286pp, hc) April 2020. Cover by Chris Gibbs.

When a trick goes wrong, stage magician Thalia Cutler discovers she has real magic in this sweet, rather low-key historical fantasy set in an alternate 1905. In this world, people are divided into three races, the magicless Solitaires, the shape-shifting Traders who lead society, and the nature-attuned Sylvestri. As far as Thalia knows, she’s ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs and Bears Behaving Badly by MaryJanice Davidson

Patricia Briggs, Smoke Bitten (Ace 978-0-440-00155-3, $28.00, 342pp, hc) March 2020. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

A new foe with a really nasty bite and some creepy magic keeps Mercy busy trying protect friends and family. At the same time, she’s re­ally worried about her mate. Alpha werewolf Adam hasn’t really recovered emotionally from the last big battle, retreating inside himself so far he’s even shut down their mage bond. ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold and Potions Are for Pushovers by Tamara Berry

Luke Arnold, The Last Smile in Sunder City (Orbit US 978-0-316-45582-4, $15.99, 316pp, tp) February 2020.

Fetch Phillips is a hard-boiled (or possibly well-pickled) detective type, working in a city that once ran on magic and hasn’t really recovered since the magic ran out in a devastating war. Being human, Fetch is less affected by the loss of magic than many of the supernatural races that used to run things, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Ben Aaronovitch, Seanan McGuire, and Carrie Vaughn

Ben Aaronovitch, False Value (DAW 978-0-7564-1646-1, $26.00, 349pp, hc) February 2020; (Gollancz 978-1-473207851, 416pp, hc) February 2020.

Police detective Peter Grant is back on the police force but ends up going undercover in this eighth novel in the ever-entertaining Rivers of London series. As part of an investigation, Peter gets hired as a security officer at the Serious Cybernetics Company, a high-tech firm run by Terrence Skinner, a brilliant Australian/Silicon ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Books by Genevieve Cogman, K.D. Edwards, E.E. Knight, and Michelle Sagara

Genevieve Cogman, The Secret Chapter (Pan 978-1-529000573, £8.99, 336pp, tp) November 2019; (Ace 978-1-9848-0476-1, $16.00, 334pp, tp; 978-0-593-19784-4, $26.00, hc) January 2020.

Librarian Irene and dragon prince Kai are off on yet another quest for a special book – but this time their quest is complicated by the brand-new treaty they helped broker between dragons, Fae, and the Library. They can’t steal from participants in the treaty, but they have ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris and The Case of the Spellbound Child by Mercedes Lackey

Charlaine Harris, A Longer Fall (Saga 978-1-4814-9495-3, $25.99, 293pp, hc) January 2020.

The second book featuring gunslinger Lizbeth Rose, AKA “Gunnie Rose,” finds her working for a new crew trying to deliver a crate to the town of Sally in Louisiana, in the country of Dixie. As seems to happen a lot to her, things go bad quickly; an attempt at train robbery is followed by a derailment, and Gunnie ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman and Amy Goldschlager Review Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Garth Nix, Angel Mage (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0-06-268322-9, $19.99, 534pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Victo Ngai.

Nix pays homage to Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers in this young-adult fantasy novel, set in a world where magic is worked using icons that draw on the power of angels. A young woman named Liliath wakes 137 years after the Doom of Ystara, having spent the time entombed, yet is somehow still ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Princess Who Flew with Dragons by Stephanie Burgis and Witchy Kingdom by D.J. Butler

Stephanie Burgis, The Princess Who Flew with Dragons (Bloomsbury 978-1526604330, £6.99, 240pp, hc) August 2019. (Bloomsbury USA 978-1-5476-0207-0, $16.99, 196pp, hc) November 2019. Cover by Petur Antonsson.

Princess Sofia dreams of being a philosopher, but mostly feels like a failure at the start of this third novel in the charming middle-grade series Tales from the Chocolate Heart. A born scholar, the twelve-year-old princess never quite lives up to her family’s ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine and Lost Acre by Andrew Caldecott

Rachel Caine, Sword and Pen (Berkley 978-0-451-48924-1, $17.99, 358pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Katie Anderson.

Things look grim in this fifth and final book in the Great Library series, which picks up right where the previous left off. Jess Brightwell and his friends have finally made it back to the Great Library at Alexandria, and the corrupt Archivist is on the run – but all the powers in Europe ...Read More

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Books for 2019 by Carolyn Cushman

I read a lot of books in familiar series this year, and only a few really stood out. Ilona Andrews’s Sapphire Flames is a fun start to a new trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series of urban fantasy romances, focusing on Catalina, the second daughter in the heavily armed Baylor family, taking over as Head of the family’s House with her rare but powerful talent as a Siren – and ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi and Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw

John Scalzi, A Very Scalzi Christmas (Subterranean 978-1-59606-932-9, $40.00, 142pp, hc) November 2019. Cover by Natalie Metzger.

For a fancy stocking stuffer, this collection of holiday items, most originally published on Scalzi’s Whatever blog, presents a mix of hilarious Santa snark and heartwarming sentiment, with a mix of lists, poems, interviews with some of Santa’s helpers, stories, and more. Three items are brand new, but many of the older items ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Fallen by Benedict Jacka and The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Benedict Jacka, Fallen (Ace 978-0-440-00058-7, $7.99, 296pp, pb) September 2018.

Alex Verus’s life takes a big turn for the worse in this tenth installment in the urban fantasy series. That’s not a huge surprise – this series has had a lot of ups and downs. This time, though, things get pretty desperate. Alex gets caught covering up for his girlfriend Anne, who let her dark self out and some really ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Seanan McGuire, Laughter at the Academy (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-928-2, $40.00, 374pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Carla Speed McNeil.

McGuire’s introduction calls this her first single-author short story collection, which isn’t exactly true, but it is her first collection of non-series stories, 22 of them, all originally published from 2009-2017. The bulk of them are dark tales; she has a tendency to pick one creepy idea and then push it ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews and The Affair of the Mysterious Let­ter by Alexis Hall

Ilona Andrews, Sapphire Flames (Avon 978-0-06-287834-2, $7.99, 393pp, pb; -295258-5, $26.99, hc) August 2019. Cover by Gene Mollica.

The action-packed Hidden Legacy series of urban fantasy romances starts a new trilogy – the fourth novel overall in the series. The previous trilogy centered on Nevada Baylor and her tempestuous relationship with the powerful Prime Connor Rogan, but now they’re conveniently out of the country on family business, and the focus ...Read More

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Liz Bourke and Carolyn Cushman Review Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir ( Pub­lishing 978-1-250-31319-5, $25.99, 448pp, hc) September 2019. Cover by Tommy Arnold.

Gideon the Ninth, debut novel by much-hyped new voice Tamsyn Muir, is a book that spent several months on my shelf while I wrestled with my mixed feelings about how very hyped it has been since I first heard of it. Lesbian necromancers in space! Gothic cutthroat politics! Epic shit! You’ll ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire and Witch Hat Atelier 2 by Kamome Shirahama

Seanan McGuire, The Unkindest Tide (DAW 978-0-7564-1507-5, $26.00, 354pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019. Cover by Chris McGrath.

Toby’s all at sea in this uneven 13th novel in the October Daye series, which centers on an old bargain the Luidaeg (sea witch) made to undo a great wrong. Her children and descendants, the Roane, were mostly slaughtered by people who stole their magic skins. The Luidaeg turned the murderers’ children into Selkies, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey and Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca

Mercedes Lackey, Eye Spy (DAW 978-0-7564-1320-0, $27.00, 326pp, hc) July 2019. Cover by Jody Lee.

The latest book in the Valdemar series and the second volume in the Family Spy series turns to young Abidela (Abi), daughter of the Herald Spy Mags and King’s Own Herald Amily. She’s grown up around the court and Heralds, is friends with the young royals, and knows lots of spy tricks, but doesn’t seem ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs and Reticence by Gail Carriger

Patricia Briggs, Storm Cursed (Ace 978-0-425-28129-1, $27.00, 358pp, hc) May 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

The 11th novel in the Mercy Thompson series finds Mercy back home in Washington’s Tri-Cities area, and a little more in the public eye than she cares for, thanks to having publically declared the area under the Columbia Basin pack’s pro­tection a couple of books back, so now she gets called to deal with ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett and Stormrise by Jillian Boehme

Claire Eliza Bartlett, We Rule the Night (Little, Brown 978-0-316-41727-3, $17.99, 390pp, hc) April 2019.

Young women get the unprecedented chance to serve in the military as pilots in this thrilling young-adult tale set in a magical version of WWII Soviet Russia, and based on actual history. The Union of the North faces an enemy with superior technology, includ­ing deadly aircraft powered by forbidden Weave magic. The Union, strapped for ...Read More

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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Titanshade by Dan Stout and The Unspeakable Unknown by Eliot Sappingfield

Dan Stout, Titanshade (DAW 978-0-7564-1486-3, $26.00, 403pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Chris McGrath.

A diplomat is murdered and Carter, an honest homicide cop out of favor, decides to bull his way through the halls of power and privilege to solve the case, getting into lots of trouble along the way, helped by his newbie partner. What makes this mystery so much fun is the off-kilter version of the 1970s ...Read More

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