The lackluster conclusion to a trilogy that might have succeeded better as a single, heavily edited volume.


The third and final volume set in a high-fantasy world where women reign.

In The Women’s War (2019), a discarded queen casts a spell that lets women decide when and if they have children. By the end of Queen of the Unwanted (2020), a plot to reverse the Blessing—or, as the men call it, the Curse—that set the first book in motion leaves that spell unchanged while seriously damaging the source of all magic in the kingdom of Aaltah. Fans of the first two novels will likely be satisfied with this concluding volume. Good is rewarded. Evil is punished. And the trilogy ends on a hopeful note that delivers on the feminist-lite promise with which the series began. As was the case in the first two installments, the emphasis here is on interpersonal relationships, palace intrigue, and political maneuvering among royals. Readers heavily invested in, for example, Ellin’s marriage to Zarsha will get to spend plenty of time listening to them flirt and strategize over dinners in her private quarters. Readers more interested in action will likely conclude that Glass lingers over phenomena such as late-night pastries a bit more than is necessary. This would perhaps be less notable if there wasn’t a striking sameness to all these scenes. There are, evidently, a lot of royal banquets in Ellin’s world, and each time she is forced to endure one we are reminded that they are long and tedious and that a private meal with her husband is a luxury. While she enjoys this luxury, she and Zarsha have conversations into which the author weaves in backstory she’s already shared at least a few times. And this is the model that Glass uses for the many, many, many characters in this novel: Reintroduce the characters in the scene, show them doing something they’ve done several times before, and maybe inject one new detail that nudges the plot forward. There are exceptions to this rule, but not many, and the end result is a story that runs more than 1,800 pages across the whole series and still feels very small.

The lackluster conclusion to a trilogy that might have succeeded better as a single, heavily edited volume.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-61842-3

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.


From the Between Earth and Sky series , Vol. 1

A powerful priest, an outcast seafarer, and a man born to be the vessel of a god come together in the first of Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky trilogy.

The winter solstice is coming, and the elite members of the sacred Sky Made clans in the city of Tova are preparing for a great celebration, led by Naranpa, the newly appointed Sun Priest. But unrest is brewing in Carrion Crow, one of the clans. Years ago, a previous Sun Priest feared heresy among the people of Carrion Crow and ordered his mighty Watchers to attack them, a terrible act that stripped the clan of its power for generations. Now, a secretive group of cultists within Carrion Crow believe that their god is coming back to seek vengeance against the Sun Priest, but Naranpa’s enemies are much closer than any resurrected god. Meanwhile, a young sailor named Xiala has been outcast from her home and spends much of her time drowning her sorrows in alcohol in the city of Cuecola. Xiala is Teek, a heritage that brings with it some mysterious magical abilities and deep knowledge of seafaring but often attracts suspicion and fear. A strange nobleman hires Xiala to sail a ship from Cuecola to Tova. Her cargo? A single passenger, Serapio, a strange young man with an affinity for crows and a score to settle with the Sun Priest. Roanhorse’s fantasy world based on pre-Columbian cultures is rich, detailed, and expertly constructed. Between the political complications in Tova, Serapio’s struggle with a great destiny he never asked for, and Xiala’s discovery of abilities she never knew she had, the pages turn themselves. A beautifully crafted setting with complex character dynamics and layers of political intrigue? Perfection.

Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3767-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.


A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet