An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of...

THE WATER CURE

Three sisters, secreted away during a global crisis of male violence, learn to fight for their survival in this spare, dystopian debut.

Grace, Lia, and Sky follow the rituals enforced by their mother and their father, King, the only man they've ever known. The strange family lives in an isolated, crumbling mansion by the sea, where women arrive to receive the family's storied water cures and heal from violent pasts. They look like "they had been bled out, their skin limp. Eyes watering involuntarily, hair thinning," recalls Lia, and the sisters learn to fear a world that visits so much violence on its women. There are water cures for everything: to purify toxins from the outside world, illness, grief, too much feeling. The rituals themselves are often violent, requiring drowning or self-harm. When the novel opens, the sisters are mourning the death of King and the discovery of Grace's pregnancy, which disrupts their harmony and fractures their routines. To complicate matters, three men wash up on shore and beg for entry. Met with deep suspicion and relegated to the beach, the men become figures of both fascination and fear. Mackintosh alternates between the sisters' collective voices and the heartbreaking narratives of Grace and Lia. Despite being warned by her sisters and mother to stay away, Lia begins her first love affair with Llew, who is by turns charming, careless, and cruel. Grace gives birth to King's stillborn baby boy, an experience that isolates her from her younger sisters and her mother, who inexplicably disappears. While the narrative at times veers toward the pedantic, it's both shocking and refreshing to see the observations women make to one another—about the specific, learned cruelties and emotional violence of men—represented so plainly on the page. "It was no one big thing but many small things," one of the patients writes in the house Welcome Book. "Each one chipped away at me. By the end, I felt skinless." Ultimately, Grace, Lia, and Sky must make a choice: to trust the men or to save one another.

An evocative coming-of-age novel that captures the fear, rage, and yearning of three women growing up in a time of heightened violence.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54387-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

THE BOOK OF KOLI

The first volume in Carey’s Rampart trilogy is set centuries into a future shaped by war and climate change, where the scant remains of humankind are threatened by genetically modified trees and plants.

Teenager Koli Woodsmith lives in Mythen Rood, a village of about 200 people in a place called Ingland, which has other names such as “Briton and Albion and Yewkay.” He was raised to cultivate, and kill, the wood from the dangerous trees beyond Mythen Rood’s protective walls. Mythen Rood is governed by the Ramparts (made up entirely of members of one family—what a coincidence), who protect the village with ancient, solar-powered tech. After the Waiting, a time in which each child, upon turning 15, must decide their future, Koli takes the Rampart test: He must “awaken” a piece of old tech. After he inevitably fails, he steals a music player which houses a charming “manic pixie dream girl” AI named Monono, who reveals a universe of knowledge. Of course, a little bit of knowledge can threaten entire societies or, in Koli’s case, a village held in thrall to a family with unfettered access to powerful weapons. Koli attempts to use the device to become a Rampart, he becomes their greatest threat, and he’s exiled to the world beyond Mythen Rood. Luckily, the pragmatic Koli has his wits, Monono, and an ally in Ursala, a traveling doctor who strives to usher in a healthy new generation of babies before humanity dies out for good. Koli will need all the help he can get, especially when he’s captured by a fearsome group ruled by a mad messianic figure who claims to have psychic abilities. Narrator Koli’s inquisitive mind and kind heart make him the perfect guide to Carey’s (Someone Like Me, 2018, etc.) immersive, impeccably rendered world, and his speech and way of life are different enough to imagine the weight of what was lost but still achingly familiar, and as always, Carey leavens his often bleak scenarios with empathy and hope. Readers will be thrilled to know the next two books will be published in short order.

A captivating start to what promises to be an epic post-apocalyptic fable.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-47753-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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