Fantasy readers will enjoy the world but might wish that the promised battle was quicker to arrive.

THE BECOMING

A woman destined to be the bridge between the human and fey worlds prepares for war.

This second book of The Dragon Heart Legacy series begins where the first book, The Awakening (2020), left off, with Breen Kelly and her best friend, Marco, jumping through a portal from Philadelphia back to the magical world of Talamh. Breen was born in Talamh and inherited powerful magicks from her fey father; however, Breen’s human mother insisted they leave the magical realm, fearing for the safety of her family. Breen, raised in complete ignorance about her background, was taught to use her magick by Keegan, the handsome leader of the fey. Breen’s return comes at the right time. The people of Talamh sense that Odran, a powerful, villainous god, has been gathering his forces and will soon make another attack on their world before moving on to conquer the rest of the known realms. Odran is her grandfather, and Breen intends to use her magick to stop him while he hopes to steal her abilities to further his own evil cause. Breen’s relationship with Keegan is on hold—his sole focus is teaching her to fight and preparing his people for battle, which leaves little time for romance. Most of the book is consumed with expanding Breen’s understanding of the world and her own abilities. There are multiple subplots about interpersonal relationships: Keegan’s ex-lover will do anything to get him back, Marco falls in love with a handsome young soldier, and Breen strengthens the ties to new friends and family. The characters learn more about themselves and prepare to battle Odran, but too much of the plot feels like filler, keeping readers on the hook for the final confrontation in the last book.

Fantasy readers will enjoy the world but might wish that the promised battle was quicker to arrive.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-7270-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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

THE SWALLOWED MAN

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

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Romance, mystery, and dust bunnies abound in this solid addition to a long-running series.

GUILD BOSS

A blacklisted weather reader on the colony world of Harmony reluctantly partners with the notorious Ghost Hunter who saved her from the Underworld once upon a time.

Lucy Bell doesn't remember how she woke up in the strange alien underground beneath Illusion Town after leaving a friend's wedding, but she's wholeheartedly convinced there was foul play at work. Of course, as soon as handsome Ghost Hunter Guild boss Gabriel Jones shows up with a box of pizza in hand, she lets him in long enough to allow him to help her escape the daunting magical maze. As far as the rest of Harmony is concerned, Lucy's got no one to blame for her misfortune but herself, and all her attempts to convince friends, family, and doctors that she must have been kidnapped fall on deaf ears. Her professional reputation as a weather reader crumbles, and her one reliable witness—Gabriel—instantly disappears. When the Ghost Hunter strolls back into her life, later on, Lucy is understandably less than thrilled to see him again, but he's returned seeking her help this time around. He's got a job that requires a woman of her unique abilities, and maybe, deep down, he's trying to reconnect with her, too—because he's been thinking about her ever since he left all those months ago. Castle returns to her Harmony series for an engaging adventure in which a love story and a whodunit go hand in hand, as Gabriel and Lucy have to team up not only to uncover the truth behind her abduction, but to learn the identity of the person—or persons—responsible for trying to take down Illusion Town's primary energy source. The mystery often proves more absorbing than the romance, but all of the ingredients in this newest installment, as well as its resolution, are sure to satisfy longtime fans of the series.

Romance, mystery, and dust bunnies abound in this solid addition to a long-running series.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33699-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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