A compelling book of Otherside that goes from strength to strength.

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ELDRITCH SPARKS

From the Shadows of Otherside series , Vol. 2

The second installment of Hill’s urban-fantasy series pits its air-spirit private detective against a plot to raise the dead.

Arden Finch is a sylph—an elemental born of an elf and a djinni. For her first 25 years, her djinn relatives taught her to hide her powers. Elves consider sylphs abominations, and most would kill her on sight. After the events of Elemental(2020), however, Arden has gained the begrudging protection of House Monteague, the leading elven family. She’s now a neutral party in the squabbles and maneuverings of Otherside—an umbrella term for the disparate cliques of supernatural creatures who lead double lives among North Carolina’s human population. Arden may have found a bit of acceptance, but her happiness is short-lived, as Otherside is in imminent danger of being revealed to the humans. Before that happens, Arden needs to forge an alliance among the elves, vampires, werewolves, djinn, and others. But her werewolf boyfriend, Roman, keeps taking actions behind her back; the Monteague princess Evangeline wants her dead; and sultry vampire Maria is determined to seduce her. Worst of all, Arden’s latest investigation in the human world—into bodies stolen from the local morgue—leads her to suspect that a lich lord has risen and is building a zombie army. Can Arden ward off both death and disaster? Hill employs a pulp-noir style with modern-day verve and attitude, and Arden has a bit of a Jessica Jones vibe. As a supernatural being passing as a mixed-race human, she’s keenly aware of contemporary minority rights movements, and her fortitude in Otherside dealings resonates strongly with analogous struggles in the real world. But although Hill’s worldbuilding will draw the reader in, it’s the strong-willed, hard-boiled protagonist who will keep them engaged, as Arden’s narration ties the speculative elements together and brings a sense of simmering urgency to the proceedings. One minor criticism is that Hill’s prose occasionally hurries along a bit too quickly, but it won’t stop readers from finishing the book in one sitting.

A compelling book of Otherside that goes from strength to strength.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73442-274-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Benu Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Will hook readers with its gripping worldbuilding, well-rounded characters, and fantastic horror.

GALLANT

Seeking a place to call home, Olivia uncovers long-buried secrets after arriving at Gallant.

Olivia Prior has always hoped for a place to belong and a family that cares for her. Instead, she’s isolated at Merilance School for Independent Girls, with its strict matrons, shunned by students who ostracize and torment her for being mute. Olivia uses sign language, taught to her by a now-departed matron (although nobody else signs); treasures the journal belonging to the mother she doesn’t remember; and can see ghouls. When she receives a letter from her uncle, Arthur Prior, inviting her to live at his manor, Olivia leaps at the chance. However, instead of the big, welcoming family she imagined, the opulent yet run-down Gallant only holds Matthew, her irritable cousin, and kindly caretakers Hannah and Edgar. Olivia unravels the ominous secrets of both her family and the house, where ghouls lurk around every corner and the dilapidated garden gate calls to her. The evolving relationships between Olivia and her found family shine, and themes of freedom, the self, and belonging are well depicted. The gripping writing and effective incorporation of horror elements, including haunting, inky artwork, are satisfyingly spine-tingling. Olivia’s use of sign language and her artistic talents, part of the exploration of the importance of communication, are skillfully incorporated into the overall story. Olivia and the main cast are White.

Will hook readers with its gripping worldbuilding, well-rounded characters, and fantastic horror. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-283577-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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