Hard-boiled adventure and snappy worldbuilding in the shadowy margins of the everyday.

ELEMENTAL

From the Shadows of Otherside series , Vol. 1

A superpowered private detective is drawn into a murky power struggle in Hill’s debut urban fantasy novel.

Twenty-five-year-old Arden Finch is a PI in Durham, North Carolina. She’s also a sylph—an elemental spirit with the innate ability to control air. Although she was raised by a supernatural overlord and two djinn, Arden has been kept away from a group of factions called Otherside, which is made up of elves, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings who rule the world behind the scenes and who cooperate with one another to keep their existence a secret from humans. The elves have put a bounty on elementals, so Arden can’t use her powers without risking exposure and death. But when a “high-blood” elf hires her to investigate the disappearance of his grandmother, Arden is forced to wade into the depths and deceptions of Otherside. It’s a dangerous path for her to tread but solving the case might gain her the leverage she needs to strike out on her own and lift the bounty. Can Arden stay ahead of the forces that seek to manipulate her? Hill provides narrator Arden with a no-nonsense independence that may remind readers of novelist Seanan McGuire’s urban fantasy adventurer October Daye. The prose style is a familiar one for the action-detective genre, but the author takes the time to evoke a clear sense of place, and the intricacies of Otherside are well served by its connection to North Carolina. The fantasy element, though complex, has a pleasingly lived-in feel, and that comfortable familiarity extends to the characters. Arden is a winning protagonist, pushing against PI stereotypes in small but telling ways, and the denizens of Otherside—particularly the vampires and djinn—have well-developed personalities. Hill also has a fine ear for dialogue and a good sense of timing, and the story builds steadily and believably, resulting in a genuine page-turner. Readers are left with a sense of closure, but a sequel would be more than welcome.

Hard-boiled adventure and snappy worldbuilding in the shadowy margins of the everyday.

Pub Date: April 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73442-272-6

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Benu Media

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

BLACK SUN

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

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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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