This is a shelf-bending fantasy masterwork: as good as it gets.

THE VEILED THRONE

From the Dandelion Dynasty series , Vol. 3

The penultimate installment of Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty quartet—after The Wall of Storms (2016)—continues the grand-scale narrative set in the vast fantasy archipelago of Dara as two factions battle for control of the islands.

With the Lyucu invasion and occupation of Dara accomplished—and parties on both sides attempting to maneuver a peaceful path forward—the inhabitants of the islands find life increasingly difficult as Lyucu hard-liners, knowing that massive reinforcements are on the way, push for a world where the warriorlike Lyucu rule supreme and all others are essentially slaves. As the tensions rise, Princess Théra of Dara—daughter of Empress Jia—forsakes the throne to embark on a quest to the Lyucu stronghold of Ukyu-Gondé, trying to find a way to save her country and her subjugated people. But as years pass and Théra falls in love, weds native leader Takval, and has children, the question of what her country is and who her people are becomes complicated. Juggling dozens of main characters and multiple plotlines, Liu manages to keep the momentum brisk and the tension consistently high in this 1,000-plus-page novel. But the real genius here is the fusion of extraordinarily deep worldbuilding with profound (and timely) themes, which include cultural assimilation, identity, intolerance, and more. An extended sequence describing a contest between two popular restaurants battling for bragging rights, for example, is a master class in not only sensory description, but also allegory, as the sequence brilliantly illustrates larger themes explored in the saga—one owner has all the resources while the other must take advantage of ingenuity and innovative thinking to succeed. But ultimately, it’s Liu’s poetic style that makes this book so memorable: “We are embedded in strands of love and hatred, a web that glows in the sunlight of history, bedecked in pearls of blood and fragments of bone.”

This is a shelf-bending fantasy masterwork: as good as it gets.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2433-2

Page Count: 1008

Publisher: Saga/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Lots of buzz after a seven-year hiatus, but even die-hard Outlander fans might need more action.

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GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE

The ninth book in Gabaldon’s Outlander series finds the Fraser family reunited in the midst of the American Revolution.

It’s 1779, and Claire and Jamie Fraser have found each other across time and space and are living peacefully in the American Colony of North Carolina. This novel opens with the mysterious return to Fraser’s Ridge of their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children. In a previous book, Brianna’s family time-traveled to 20th-century America and planned to stay there permanently. It’s clear that Jamie and the others expect the troubles the family faced in the future will follow them to the past; unfortunately, after their return, the book pauses for several hundred pages of exposition. Gabaldon reintroduces characters, summarizes past events and tragedies, and introduces new characters. The text features not one but two family trees (the one in the back is updated to include the events of the book), and readers will need both to keep track of all the characters and relationships. The Outlander series has always been concerned with themes of time and place, and this novel contains intricate details and descriptions of daily life in Colonial America, clearly the result of countless hours of research. But Claire and Jamie have always been the major draw for readers. Now that they are grandparents, their love story is less epic and more tender, exploring the process of aging, the joys of family, and the longing for community and home. The last third is more plot-driven and action-packed, but the cliffhanger ending might leave readers feeling as if the book is just filler for the promised 10th installment.

Lots of buzz after a seven-year hiatus, but even die-hard Outlander fans might need more action.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-101-88568-0

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.

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THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE

When you deal with the darkness, everything has a price.

“Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” Adeline tried to heed this warning, but she was desperate to escape a wedding she didn’t want and a life spent trapped in a small town. So desperate that she didn’t notice the sun going down. And so she made a deal: For freedom, and time, she will surrender her soul when she no longer wants to live. But freedom came at a cost. Adeline didn’t want to belong to anyone; now she is forgotten every time she slips out of sight. She has spent 300 years living like a ghost, unable even to speak her own name. She has affairs with both men and women, but she can never have a comfortable intimacy built over time—only the giddy rush of a first meeting, over and over again. So when she meets a boy who, impossibly, remembers her, she can’t walk away. What Addie doesn’t know is why Henry is the first person in 300 years who can remember her. Or why Henry finds her as compelling as she finds him. And, of course, she doesn’t know how the devil she made a deal with will react if he learns that the rules of their 300-year-long game have changed. This spellbinding story unspools in multiple timelines as Addie moves through history, learning the rules of her curse and the whims of her captor. Meanwhile, both Addie and the reader get to know Henry and understand what sets him apart. This is the kind of book you stay up all night reading—rich and satisfying and strange and impeccably crafted.

Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8756-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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