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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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer and Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara

Joanna Ruth Meyer, Echo North (Page Street 978-1-62414-715-9, $17.99, 391pp, hc) January 2019.

Fairytales, myths, and even a ballad mix in this lyrical young-adult novel about a young woman lured by a wolf to his magical house, where she finds herself trapped, forced to stay. Echo’s an interesting character: scarred on her face as a child by a wolf she tried to free from a trap, she’s grown up used ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Storm by David Drake and A Parliament of Bod­ies by Marshall Ryan Maresca

David Drake, The Storm (Baen 978-1-4814-8369-8, $25.00, xii+274pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Todd Lockwood.

Lord Pal of Beune returns for more far-future Arthurian adventures in this sequel to The Spark. Pal’s still not entirely comfortable among the lords and ladies in Dun Add, where Jon the Leader rules the Commonwealth of Mankind. Pal’s happy to be a Champion, and believes in Jon’s vision of many lands united by ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Final Exam by Carol J. Perry and Marked by S. Andrew Swann

Carol J. Perry, Final Exam (Kensington 978-1-4967-1460-2, $7.99, 358pp, pb) March 2019.

A high school reunion goes wrong in this seventh mystery in the Witch City series set in Salem MA. Lee Barrett’s settling into her job as a TV news reporter, and she’s got a little extra time to help her Aunt Ibby prepare for her 45th high school reunion. But then a vintage car is discovered underwater in ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews That Ain’t Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire, That Ain’t Witchcraft (DAW 978-0-7564-1179-4, $7.99, 432pp, pb) March 2019. Cover by Aly Fell.

Antimony “Annie” Price’s adventures continue in this eighth volume in the InCryptid series. She and her cryptid friends, still on the road after their harrowing adventures at Lowryland theme park, finally find a safe place to stop for a while in Maine. But this is Stephen King country, where their rental house hides secrets, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines and Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter

Jim C. Hines, Terminal Uprising (DAW 978-0-7564-1277-7, $26.00, 324pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.

Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her Hygiene and Sanitation Services team take their stolen ship, the EMCS Pufferfish, on a mission to Earth in this second book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series. In this future, the humans of Earth have all been reduced to zombie-like ferals, but some, like Mops and her ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Wild Country by Anne Bishop and Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

Anne Bishop, Wild Country (Ace 978-0-399-58727-6, $27.00, 480pp, hc) March 2019. Cover by Robert Jones.

A young woman dreaming of becoming a policewoman ends up working as a frontier deputy in this second book in the World of the Others series. It should be a great story – Jana Paniccia is a strong character, a woman determined to work in a field largely restricted to men in this world. She’s ...Read More

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Carolyn F. Cushman Reviews Death & Honey, Edited by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne, ed., Death & Honey (Subterranean Press 978-1-59606-914-5, $45.00, 300pp, hc) February 2019. Cover by Galen Dara.

Murder and bees make an interesting topic for this original anthology of three fantasy novellas by Kevin Hearne, Lila Bowen (Delilah S. Dawson), and Chuck Wendig, each writing in their own popular worlds. Hearne offers “The Buzz Kill”, a peculiarly sweet and funny new tale in the Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries series, a ...Read More

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2018 Year-in-Review by Carolyn Cushman

There wasn’t much that really blew me away in 2018, but some entertain­ing titles turned up. At the top of my SF read­ing this year are Martha Wells’s Artificial Condi­tion, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy, the last three novellas in the Murderbot Diaries quartet featuring the deadly yet oddly endearing android Murderbot, a corporate-owned security guard that apparently once went berserk and killed humans (hence its chosen ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix & Sean Williams, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Garth Nix & Sean Williams, Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Scholastic Press 978-1-338-15849-6, $17.99, 256pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Ross Dearsley.

Young knights Odo and Eleanor are back in their second middle-grade fantasy adventure, ready to take their talking swords and leave their village for more adventure – but they end up getting a lot more excite­ment than they counted on. A blind old man named Egda and a female ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey and The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Mercedes Lackey, The Bartered Brides (DAW 978-0-7564-0874-9, $27.00, 314pp, hc) October 2018. Cover by Jody A. Lee.

Though the title evokes the comic opera The Bartered Bride by Smetana, this latest novel in the Elemental Masters series owes a lot more to Sherlock Holmes, or maybe the Sherlock TV series. Holmes’s death at Reichenbach Falls has just been announced, but the Watsons (both Elemental Masters), psychic Nan Killian, and medium ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Breach by W.L. Goodwater and For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

W.L. Goodwater, Breach (Ace 978-0-451-49103-9, $16.00, 357pp, tp) November 2018.

Cold War espionage and magic mix in this fan­tasy spy thriller. Karen O’Neil is an American magician, a government researcher tired of dealing with men who don’t believe women can be competent. She’s excited to be assigned to a secret mission in post-WWII Berlin, where the Wall has developed a hole, small but growing. The Wall was erected overnight by ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman and Search Image by Julie E. Czerneda

Genevieve Cogman, The Mortal Word (Ace 978-0-399-58744-3, $15.00, 433pp, tp) Novem­ber 2018.

Irene faces a murder mystery in this fifth vol­ume in the Invisible Library series. Peace talks between the Fae and the dragons are disrupted when one of the dragon negotiators is murdered, and Irene and her great-detective friend Vale are asked to help. Fortunately, these secret talks are being held in Paris in a world very similar to ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch and Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Ben Aaronovitch, Lies Sleeping (DAW 978-0-7564-1513-6, $26.00, 293pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Stephen Walter.

Major developments turn up in this seventh novel in the Rivers of London series, which finds police detective/apprentice wizard Peter Grant and a good-sized police team working hard to track down Martin Chorley, the second Faceless Man, and his as­sociate, former Police Constable Lesley May. Their efforts include tracking down members of an Oxford dining ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews The Way of the Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca and Séances Are for Suckers by Tamara Berry

Marshall Ryan Maresca, The Way of the Shield (DAW 978-0-7564-1479-5, $7.99, 354pp, pb) October 2018. Cover by Paul Young.

Maresca keeps adding new series set in the city of Maradaine, all running more-or-less concurrently, each focusing on a different facet of the city. This first volume in the Maradaine Elite series follows a young man trying to join an archaic military order, one of two surviving orders from the past, ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman Reviews Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews and Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Ilona Andrews, Magic Triumphs (Ace 978-0-425-27071-4, $26.00, 327pp, hc) August 2018. Cover by Juliana Kolesova.

The Kate Daniels series wraps up in this tenth volume with some heartwarming bits, grave danger, and yet another epic battle. Kate and Curran have a baby, and Kate’s determined to keep her mad god of a father away from his grandchild. Meanwhile, she deals with Atlanta’s usual magical crises, but a new case involving ...Read More

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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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