City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. ★★★1/2
The Divine Cities series has been one of the most well written fantasy series I’ve ever read. Yet I have mixed emotions about this final book in the trilogy. You can read either the City of Stairs or City of Blades independently, but I think you need to have read both of them before going into City of Miracles.
City of Miracles opens with the assassination of Shara Komayd, hero of the battle of Bulikov and former prime minister. Sigrud has spent the last thirteen years waiting for Shara to summon him out of exile and give him a purpose again. When he hears of her death, he decides his purpose must be to avenge her. But he soon finds that Shara wasn’t taking it easy in her retirement – she was deeply involved in a battle of shadowy forces, and Sigrud has charged head first into a situation where he has no idea what is going on.
Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari. ★★★
I picked up this YA science fiction because I heard it had asexual representation. That turned out to be the only memorable thing about it.
Isaak is a teenage boy living on a future Mars colony. Then he sees a strange arch formation that almost exactly matches the depiction on an ancient coin belonging to his missing father. But how is that possible? There’s no such thing as ancient Martian civilization… right?
Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling. ★★★1/2
I’ve finally gotten around to reading Hidden Warrior, the sequel to the coming of age fantasy novel, The Bone Doll’s Twin. In my review of the first book, I noted that I was reserving judgement on how well gender is handled until I’d read the second book. And wow am I judgmental about how Hidden Warrior handled the themes it set out to explore.
To recap, in The Bone Doll’s Twin a king has taken the throne from his sister, the rightful heir. A long ago prophecy says the country will never be defeated as long as a woman of the proper lineage sits on the throne. Since prophecies are serious business in fantasy novels, the king starts killing off all female relatives who could be a potential threat. When his sister gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, a wizard takes matters into her own hands to preserve the girl, the “true heir,” by using dark magic to give her the shape of her brother. Oh, yes, this also involves the death of her brother.
A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham. ★★★1/2
The city-state of Saraykeht has grown wealthy off of the cotton trade. Their court poet, Heshai, has put into words and bound an idea and spirit, Seedless, who can remove seeds from cotton with a wave of his hand. Thanks to Heshai and Seedless, no other nation can snatch away Saraykeht’s trade or dare attack for fear of what Seedless might be ordered to do.
But the merchants of Galt have developed a plan. Saraykeht can not be conquered by force as long as Heshai has control over Seedless. But what if they can make him loose control?
Central to their plans is the merchant Marchat Wilsin, head of the Galt trading house in Saraykeht. In his reluctance, he inadvertently gives a hint of what is to come to Amat, his business manager. Amat, her assistant Liat, Liat’s lover, and the poet’s apprentice become the sole hope of saving Saraykeht.
Final Girls by Mira Grant. ★★★
I’ve read some of this author’s work under the name Seanan McGuire, but I’d never read one of the stories she wrote as Mira Grant. I had very little idea of what to expect going into Final Girls. I knew that it involved a virtual reality program being used for therapy, that it focused on sisterly bond between two women, and that it may involve horror aspects. All of those were true, but it also turned out to be a novella. So I read this one a lot quicker than I expected!
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented the method and technology for using virtual reality for therapy. To heal her clients of old wounds, she’ll send them through a virtual reality horror simulation, where they’ll feel completely immersed in the narrative. This therapy is usually used to rebuild strained family bonds, but she’s giving journalist Esther Hoffman an exclusive look at her techniques, which include Esther taking a trip via Dr. Webb’s proprietary VR tech. Esther has built her career debunking fraudulent therapy techniques, and she just can’t wait to disprove Dr. Webb. However, as she and Dr. Webb undertake a VR journey, events in the outside world influence them in ways they could never have expected.
The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun. ★★★1/2
The Root is an intriguing blend of urban and portal fantasy with a wonderfully diverse cast.
Erik’s a former teen star living in San Francisco. He thought his life was complicated enough, but now he’s finding out that he’s Blooded – descended from gods and gifted with powers he doesn’t understand. He also finds himself in the middle of a secret battle, between Blooded and a government organization kidnapping them and trading them off to an alternate dimension.
Lil’s an apprentice archivist in said alternate dimension, where humans are subservient to demonic beings. Yet a strange and powerful darkness is taking over her city, and the rulers are turning to the human archivists to look for answers. Lil’s life will soon become a tightrope walk between her demonic rulers and her power hungry fellow archivists.
Fire Boy by Sami Shah. ★★★
Wahid thinks he’s just a normal teenager growing up in Karachi, Pakistan. He attends school, plays Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, and crushes on a cute girl in his class. He has no idea that he’s the son of a djinn.
Everything changes for Wahid when two djinn attack a car he’s driving. His best friend is killed, and the girl he likes soul is stolen. In his quest to find the djinn who did this, Wahid becomes immersed in the supernatural side of Karachi.