No Heart for a Thief is a great fantasy debut. It's rife with imagery, character, and unique magic without leaning too heavily on one aspect. The novel is well rounded, inviting, and simultaneously heart-wrenching and hopeful.
I found Kaylo and Tayen's budding relationship sweet and light in a world full of discrimination, colonialism, and bloodshed. If you like two overlapping stories wrapped into a single novel, kind of like The Kingkiller Chronicles, I'd recommend giving this one a shot.
James Lloyd Dulin is an emerging author to keep an eye on, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
*Thank you to Tordotcom and NetGalley for the ARC.*
Untethered Sky is a story about grief, vengeance, acceptance, and loss. Ester becomes a ruhker (a roc trainer) to avenge her mother and brother's deaths after a manticore attack. It is a tale simultaneously about love and loss and the bittersweet acceptance of a fleeting bond between woman and beast. I didn't believe a story about training and hunting with a large bird would win me over so completely, but I found myself falling in love with Ester and Zahra's story. I adored Lee's prose and can't find a fault in her compelling yet compact novella.
I recommend this to anyone looking for a book about slaying enemies and finding an unflinching love for nature along the way.
After receiving an ARC for TJ Klune's upcoming novel, In the Lives of Puppets, I wanted to give his first two books a go.
The feel-good, heartfelt novels aren't usually my cup of tea, but this one sounded cute and light—a reprieve from my usually intense, serious, or otherwise grandiose reads.
Under the Whispering Door is hopeful, cozy, and much like a good hug after a cry... but it's also repetitive, saccharine, and obvious. The main message is living life to its fullest because you never know when it'll end. Unfortunately, after Hugo and Wallace share their feelings, and you're left to believe that Wallace must pass through the door the following evening, the Manager (a tight-lipped rule follower) changes his mind because he's bored and resurrects Wallace to see how things play out. (There's a little more context, with the Husks, but that doesn't make this decision any more warranted.) So, the theme—savoring every moment you have—is undermined by the bullshit ending. I get it's a feel-good book, and it's targeted at those who have lost someone close to them, but the ending doesn't make sense when the whole book was leading up to a bittersweet conclusion.
All in all, this book was okay. I'm hoping TJ Klune's other works are more my speed.
The Keeper's Six is a short read that packs a punch. Simply put, it is about family, righting wrongs, and the willingness to sacrifice yourself for what's right. Throughout the journey, however, there are dragon kings, a multiverse with doors into countless realms, and magic.
Without spoiling anything, this novel is packed with action, interdimensional travel, and unearthly beings while simultaneously offering a heartfelt message.
I recommend picking up a copy (when it comes out on January 17th) if you enjoy fast-paced fantasy romps with a feel-good core.
*Thank you to Tor for the advanced copy.*
This is a gorgeous novella about a four-hundred-year-old man, who has become the main character in the local folklore, and the man who seeks him out, hoping to take his place.
Silver in the Wood is a love letter to nature and desires. Without giving anything away, this novella is ripe with vivid imagery, flawed characters, and mystical happenings in the wood itself.
I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates folktales, nature, and stories that center around fate and desire.
*Thank you to Tor and NetGalley for the ARC.*
The Lies of the Ajungo is a heart-wrenching tale of survival, truth, and politics. While short, it packs a punch with its vivid imagery, tight plot, and intriguing character arcs.
If you enjoy stories set in the African desert, magical realism, or survival plot lines, I recommend giving this a read when it comes out in March 2023.
Africa Risen is a great collection by new-to-me writers. Each story provides a fascinating take on common science fiction or fantasy plots, and I appreciated reading tales that weren't influenced by Western culture. There were many stories I enjoyed and only a few I didn't care for. What follows is a list of all the stories within this collection, listed in order of my preference:
The Lady of the Yellow-Painted Library
A Soul of Small Places
The Sugar Mill
Biscuit and Milk
Air to Shape Lungs
When the Mata Wata Met a Demon
The Blue House
A Girl Crawls in a Dark Corner
The Soul Would Have No Rainbow
Ruler of the Rear Guard
Exiles of Witchery
A Dream of Electric Mothers
A Knight in Tunisia
The Taloned Beast
The Carving of War
Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)
Housewarming for a Lion Goddess
The Devil is Us
Once Upon a Time in 1967
Deification of Ogodo
I would recommend this collection to anyone looking for a sci-fi/fantasy collection written from a new perspective. With the large collection of stories, there's sure to be something for everyone.
*Thanks to Tor for providing me with an ARC.*
Truth be told, it took me a while to get sucked into Kvothe's story. But, at around page 150, I was all in!
Rothfuss is a phenomenal storyteller. His prose is delightful and easy to read, and his descriptions were lush without being flowery.
Kvothe is an intriguing character and, despite being gifted, he fucks up a lot. It helps that the story begins when he's in his early teens; his development and journey feels more honest and realistic because of his numerous faults.
The magical elements are also understated, which I appreciate. It was refreshing to see magic as a natural part of the world instead of the main focus. Though magical elements are there, and add quite a bit to the story, Kvothe's growth as a person is at the forefront of the tale.
Though a long read, I recommend The Name of the Wind to anyone looking for a great fantasy novel that focuses more on character than magic.
The Book Eaters is a fantastic fantasy debut and my favorite read this year. It tackles themes such as tradition, motherhood, trauma, and found family while staying grounded and whimsical. I loved the contemporary yet quirky background of the Families, and I adored Devon and Cai.
The six Families are backward, conservative, and traditional. Everything they do is for the greater good of the book eater line. However, when Devon's son is born with a proboscis tongue, she knows they'll never let him live. He is a mind eater and must be taken care of.
The novel weaves the past with the present in a way that solidifies the horrors of the Families and the traditions they uphold. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a grounded fantasy, family dynamics, and novels that upend and question tradition.
Flowers for the Sea reminded me of the Binti series in many ways. The prose had a similar tone, the protagonist was "chosen", and each tale took place on a ship.
Though I enjoyed this short book, it felt like an introduction and left me wanting more. I also would have preferred a longer book, to flesh out the characters and world a bit more. Nevertheless, it was a decent debut and I intend to read future books in the series.