Bookshelf Roundup 10/24/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every weekend which fills the role of several blog memes, like Stacking the Shelves where I talk about the new books I’ve added to my library or received for review, as well as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? where I summarize what I’ve finished reading in the last week and what I’m planning to read soon. Mostly it also serves as a recap post, so sometimes I’ll throw in stuff like reading challenge progress reports, book lists, and other random bookish thoughts or announcements.

black line

My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received, and be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages for more details and full descriptions!

This week, I received a new-to-me thriller called The Power Couple by Alex Berenson which follows a husband and wife who both have top secret security clearance jobs at government intelligence agencies. To rekindle a faltering marriage, they decide to take a family vacation to Europe, but things take an unexpected and frightening turn when their teenage daughter doesn’t return from a night out at a dance club in Barcelona. With thanks to Simon and Schuster for the ARC.

Next, I’m super excited to receive a copy of Warlock Holmes: The Finality Problem by G.S. Denning, with thanks to the kind folks at Titan Books. I’m a huge fan of this series and I’m so glad the author is writing more. I only found out about this fifth installment recently, so that’s always a wonderful surprise!

With thanks also to Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of The Woods by Vanessa Savage. This one was already on my to-read list, so I was really happy to receive it. I hope to give it a try soon.

And finally, my thanks to Forge Books for this surprise arrival of A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron! If you’re even passing familiar with the author, you’ve probably heard of his adorable books about dogs. This one looks to be just as heartwarming and sweet, and plus it’s Christmas themed!

Just one audiobook for review in the digital haul this week. From Tantor Audio, I received a listening copy of Tales from the Folly by Ben Aaronovitch, a Rivers of London collection. This is one of my favorite series, but I haven’t really been keeping up with many of the short stories and novellas set in the same world, so I see this as my chance to catch up with them all!

Reviews

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (4 of 5 stars)
The Nesting by C.J. Cooke (3.5 of 5 stars)

This Week’s Reads

black line

Have you heard of or read any of the books featured this week? What caught your eye? Any new discoveries? I hope you found something interesting for a future read! Let me know what you plan on checking out. Until next time, see you next Roundup!:)

Friday Face-Off: Ripped/Torn

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

~ a cover that features RIPS/TEARS

Mogsy’s Pick:

This week’s topic is another in which I’ll be featuring a series instead of the usual cover showdown. First of all, the covers are just perfect for the theme, and second of all, they are just so AWESOME. The Killing Joke, Harley Quinn: Mad Love, and Court of Owls are a trio of “DC’s prose” novels that came out in 2018 from Titan Books based on some of the greatest characters and stories to come out of the Batman universe. I’ve only read the latter two, but enjoyed them both a lot; plus I’ve always admired their covers for their cleverness and creativity. Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite. They’re all great!

Waiting on Wednesday 10/21/20

Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

The Children God Forgot by Graham Masterton (February 4, 2021 by Head of Zeus)

There’s some great horror coming our way way next year, and in honor of #SpooktasticReads I wanted to feature a couple that I recently caught my attention. Graham Masterton is a horror writer I’ve heard of but have not had the pleasure to read yet. His forthcoming novel is part of a series following a pair of supernatural sleuths, but it appears it can be read as a standalone, and it sure doesn’t sound like it’s for the squeamish…

“A rash of strange and horrifying births sweeps through London in the new horror thriller from master of the genre Graham Masterton.

A SERIES OF STRANGE BIRTHS
A young woman is rushed to the hospital with stabbing pains. The chief surgeon performs a C-section, and delivers a catastrophically malformed foetus that is somehow alive…

A DEVASTATING ATTACK
Sewage engineer Gemma is plunged into a ghostly darkness in the tunnel where she works. She escapes, but her boss goes missing in the chaos. He is later found alive… but his legs have been severed and his eyes pulled out.

A SUPERNATURAL THREAT
DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of the supernatural squad must team up once more to solve the mystery and save the city. But, if they are to succeed, first they must delve into the dark arts of witchcraft.”

#SpooktasticReads The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Saga Press (October 6, 2020)

Length: 352 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I absolutely adored T. Kingfisher’s (Ursula Vernon) The Twisted Ones, so I was looking forward to The Hollow Places with a great deal with anticipation, as you can imagine. To my delight, this book also featured the same superb balance of humor and horror, with some added portal fantasy and Lovecraftian elements besides. All throughout, I was strongly reminded of 14 by Peter Clines and if, like me, you’re a fan of the Threshold series, then I think there’s a good chance you’ll also get a huge kick out of this one.

Our story begins with an introduction to Kara, our newly divorced and strapped-for-cash heroine who now faces the unenviable reality of having to move back in with her mother. Fortunately, Uncle Earl comes to the rescue at the very last minute. For as long as she can remember, Kara’s eccentric uncle has been the owner and curator of the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosity, and Taxidermy in her hometown of Hog Chapel, North Carolina. It’s a place she remembers fondly, where, as a little girl, she would spend hours exploring its strange and exotic exhibits while listening to her affable uncle share his stories and pearls of wisdom. Lately though, Earl has been having some trouble with his bad knee and needs some extra help around the museum, so he offers Kara a chance to work for him in exchange for free accommodation.

Happy to be back at the museum (and relieved to be free of her mother), Kara immediately sets to work cataloging Earl’s massive collection of curios and oddities in between taking care of daily operations. She also befriends some of the townsfolk, including the museum’s regulars as well as Simon, the happy-go-lucky gay barista from the coffee shop next door. But then Earl’s condition takes a turn for the worse, requiring knee surgery and a prolonged stay at a hospital out of town, and Kara readily agrees to hold down the fort while he is away, determined not to let him down. So when a hole is later discovered in one of the walls of the museum, presumably caused by some careless tourist’s elbow, Kara is understandably annoyed. Recruiting Simon to help patch up the damage, the two of them go to inspect the wall…only to find a portal that leads to a whole different world! Intrigued, they decide to investigate, unaware that they’ve just stepped through a door to another reality, one where their darkest nightmares lurk.

Once again, readers are treated to a narrative told in a light and breezy tone which belies the creepiness and macabre nature of the story’s contents. That’s because Kara isn’t your typical horror novel protagonist. Like Mouse from The Twisted Ones, she’s in desperate need of a distraction from a relationship that ended badly, moving back to the tiny podunk town she grew up in to manage a museum of wacky exhibits and artifacts from around the world (some admittedly not so genuine). Heck, if I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought this was the intro to a contemporary romance, especially given Kara’s distinctive voice—which was by far my favorite thing about this book. Her personality is good-humored with just a bit of snark, but she’s also only human, giving in to the occasional breakdown whenever she sneaks a look at her ex’s Facebook page because she simply can’t help herself. It’s this candidness and wit that makes Kara such an incredibly genuine and relatable character, and I loved every moment spent in her head.

It’s also this energy that helped carry me through some of the novel’s slower parts—because as much as I enjoyed myself, I have to admit there were a few sections that dragged. The time Kara and Simon spent in the “on the other side” was perhaps a little too drawn out for my tastes, for instance, and I was also somewhat underwhelmed by the ending revelations, in the light of the considerable buildup leading to the conclusion. More than that I don’t want to say in case it gives too much away, but I did feel the finale and its “explanations” were a bit rushed.

That said, I still had a great time with this book. The fabulous Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosity, and Taxidermy also deserves a mention, as I couldn’t imagine a more apropos setting for a story about weird shit happening than in place full of actual weird shit. I was riveted by Kara’s descriptions of all the different exhibits, and some of them even made me laugh out loud. Best of all, the museum was integrated into the horror and mystery of the plot in the most mind-blowing way, and it’s definitely worth experiencing for yourself.

In conclusion, The Hollow Places is a book I would recommend, especially if you find the premise of a weird horror and portal fantasy mashup intriguing. The novel’s slower parts meant that I probably still enjoyed The Twisted Ones just a tad more than this one, but nevertheless I would say my second time with a T. Kingfisher book was another resounding success. I look forward to reading even more.

#SpooktasticReads Audiobook Review: The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Nesting by C.J. Cooke

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Penguin Audio (September 29, 2020)

Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

The Nesting by C.J. Cooke definitely earns its label of Gothic suspense, though I have to say it’s a different and interesting take on the subgenre. To be sure, what I enjoyed most about the book was its atmosphere, thick and heavy with intrigue. When it comes to reader engagement and thrills though, the story might have stumbled a little due to lack of cogency and uneven pacing.

Much of this novel takes place in the Norwegian wildnerness, but it does begin in London, where our protagonist Lexi Ellis finds herself adrift after a failed suicide attempt leaves her without any support. Her boyfriend has left her, and she’s also lost her job and her home, but one day, an opportunity presents itself as she overhears a conversation between two strangers on the train. One of the women, named Sophie, had been offered a nanny position but tells her friend she that she is unlikely to take it. An aspiring writer, Lexi is immediately intrigued upon learning the job is in Norway, which just happens to be the setting of the novel she’s working on. Inspired and emboldened, she uses Sophie’s identity and credentials to track down the employer and applies to be their nanny.

With her new stolen identity, Lexi—now Sophie—is hired by Tom Faraday, a recently widowed architect who needs someone to help care for his two young daughters. The family is currently living in a remote part of Norway, where Tom is trying to finish building a high-concept, environmentally-friendly house in honor of his late wife, Aurelia. Initially terrified that she is going to get found out, Lexi finds herself adjusting surprisingly well to her new role thanks to the charming Faraday children, Gaia and Coco. Soon, however, strange things begin to happen—and Gaia tells Lexi about her chilling visions of a sad lady she sometimes sees around the house. And then, there is the diary. Mysteriously appearing in Lexi’s room one day, it appears to have belonged to Aurelia. Everyone knows that her death had been a suicide, but the more Lexi reads from the diary, the more she wonders what Aurelia had been up to in the weeks before her death, and whether she had really taken her own life.

What we have here is all the hallmarks of an effective Gothic tale, but on the flip side, I am quite sad to say I found it weak as a psychological mystery/thriller—and bear in mind, this was how the book was pitched. What this means is, if you enjoy claustrophobic settings or the creeping nature of doubt and paranoia, then I think you will enjoy The Nesting, but on the other hand, those hoping for a more impactful and engaging tale might find themselves disappointed.

We’ll begin with the aspects I thought were strong, and first and foremost was the atmosphere. Setting the story in the Norwegian hinterlands was a stroke of genius. There’s just something about this environment that makes it both amazing and terrifying in its beauty, in turn making the novel’s themes of humanity vs. Mother Nature all the more poignant. And then we have the characters, starting with Lexi, who is a shadow of her old self when we first meet her. Gradually, we see the Faraday girls draw out the stronger and more confident side of her personality as well as her protective instincts as she strives to make sense of the strange happenings around her. Next, we have Tom’s point-of-view interspersed with Aurelia’s told in flashback, helping readers better understand the profundity of their decision to construct a dream home by the banks of a pristine fjord. A paranormal element is also present, which is good news for readers who enjoy a touch of nature-based folklore and mythology.

As for criticisms though, I had some major problems with the plot and pacing. The coincidences at the beginning, for example, were so absurd that I had feared not being able to take the rest of the story seriously. Granted, it was a fascinating setup, but the circumstances behind the way Lexi lands her job were simply too outlandish to be convincing. Then there were the plodding sections in the middle where the pacing dragged, and when the author tried to alleviate this problem with the use of time skips, the awkward execution only served to make things worse. Coupled with frequent flashbacks, the entire timeline of the story’s events became rather fuzzy for me.

So, to conclude, there are some high points in The Nesting, including a few genuine moments of pure creepiness, but on the whole, the weaknesses in the storytelling dampened a lot of my enthusiasm. Read this if you’re into the atmosphere and mood of a Gothic novel, or if you’re interested in the specific setting. But if you’re looking for a more traditional psychological suspense thriller, this might not be enough to satisfy.

Bookshelf Roundup 10/17/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads

Bookshelf Roundup is a feature I do every weekend which fills the role of several blog memes, like Stacking the Shelves where I talk about the new books I’ve added to my library or received for review, as well as It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? where I summarize what I’ve finished reading in the last week and what I’m planning to read soon. Mostly it also serves as a recap post, so sometimes I’ll throw in stuff like reading challenge progress reports, book lists, and other random bookish thoughts or announcements.

black line

I’m back from my trip and well-rested and ready for some Spooktastic Reads! I have quite a few reviews to catch up on, so I’ll be busy getting those up for the next week. In the meantime, here are this week’s new arrivals.

Received for Review

My thanks to the publishers and authors for the following review copies received, and be sure to click the links to their Goodreads pages for more details and full descriptions!

With thanks to Orbit for sending me an ARC of The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski! I love his Witcher series but I’m a little nervous about starting this new one because I’ve been seeing some mixed reviews. I’m still looking forward to reading it though, and I’ll for sure be keeping my expectations in check. Thank you also to Minotaur Books for Deep Into the Dark by P.J. Tracy, the start of a brand new mystery thriller series. I’ve been seeing some great things about how twisty this one is already, so I’m excited to check it out! Last but not least, huge thanks for Tor for sending me an ARC of The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey! I’ve head my eye on this one for a while, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

   

In the digital haul, I received four audiobooks: first, listening copies of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco and The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, with thanks to Hachette Audio. Next, with thanks to Penguin Random House Audio I received The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White, the sequel to The Guinevere Deception, as well as Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, a novella of The Illuminae Files! This one I simply can’t wait to listen to!

Reviews

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (5 of 5 stars)
The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (3.5 of 5 stars)

Roundup Highlights:

This Week’s Reads

black line

Have you heard of or read any of the books featured this week? What caught your eye? Any new discoveries? I hope you found something interesting for a future read! Let me know what you plan on checking out. Until next time, see you next Roundup!:)

Friday Face-Off: Spider Webs

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“Farewell, Aragog, king of the arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you would never forget!”
~ a cover featuring SPIDER WEBS

Mogsy’s Pick:

Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone

Thank goodness this is a trilogy, because The Hatching seems to be my go-to series whenever we get spider-related themes. Zero Day is the final book, bringing an end to the spider apocalypse—though whether anyone will be left alive to see it is another story!

Atria/Emily Bestler Books (2018) – Gollancz (2018)

Spanish Edition (2018) – French Edition A (2019) – French Edition B (2019)

Winner:

Ew, yucky spiders! I’m not crazy for any of these, which is probably no surprise to anyone. If I had to pick though, I like the clean and high-contrast look of Gollancz edition and the clever perspective of the spiders crawling towards the viewer from a black writhing mass. Minimal use of color also keeps things simple and lets the yellow of the font pop right off the page.

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?

Book Review: The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Orbit (August 18, 2020)

Length: 470 pages

Author Information: WebsiteTwitter

Let me just start by saying that I don’t think Adrian Tchaikovsky is actually capable of writing a bad book, but some are definitely better than others. When it comes to The Doors of Eden, I would probably place it somewhere in the middle as I quite enjoyed it, but I also didn’t think it was his best. Once again, we may have high expectations to blame here.

The Doors of Eden is told through multiple perspectives which are all kind of jumbled and layered on top of each other, because this is a novel involving parallel worlds and alternate timelines. We begin with childhood-friends-turned-lovers Lee and Mal, two young women who’d bonded over a lifelong interest in cryptozoology, heading off into the Bodmin Moor to investigate rumors of a creature known as the Birdman. But something strange happened to them out there in the wilderness, something Lee knows she can’t explain without coming across like she’s completely lost her mind. All that mattered was that at the end of the day, only she emerged from the moorlands while Mal was gone, vanished without a trace.

Next, we meet M15 agent Julian Sabreur, who in his more private moments likes to compare himself to James Bond. He has been placed in charge of providing security and protection for government physicist Kay Amal Khan, a foul-mouthed chain-smoking trans woman who has become the target of a racist hate group. But when the attack comes, it is not Julian’s team who ends up stopping it. While no one actually witnessed the massacre, the attackers appeared to have been ripped apart by someone or something very big and very strong, judging by the grisly bloodbath left behind in Dr. Khan’s living room.

Tasked with finding out what happened, Julian finds himself going down a rabbit hole of conspiracy, mystery, and the unexplained. Meanwhile, it has been four years since Mal’s disappearance, but the grief has not abated for Lee. Incredibly, one day she gets a phone call from Mal, who simply tells her she wants to meet—like she hasn’t been gone this entire time. Even more confounding is when Lee finally does see Mal again, her girlfriend does not appear to be the same person. Everything eventually comes to a head as Julian shows up on Lee’s doorstep, led there by a grainy image taken of a woman who was believed to be dead.

First off, I’m a big fan of sci-fi stories about alternate universes and parallel worlds. I love the endless possibilities they offer, and the mind-warping questions they always seem to leave behind. But on the flip side, these kinds of books often have a lot going on in them, and sometimes, the intricate web of plotlines and character lives can get a tad overwhelming. Tchaikovsky did a great job organizing multiple threads and streamlining the overall narrative, but I think even he stumbled at times and lost control of the story because it occasionally felt like things got away from him. This was especially the case as we delved further into the middle sections of the book, where the storytelling didn’t feel as tightly plotted or well-paced.

Case in point, I knew something was up when I realized I found more pleasure in reading the interludes from the point of view of Professor Ruth Emerson discussing the evolutionary trajectory of various alternate Earths and what they might look like. I mean, granted I’m a biology nerd, but also, the truth is, for most of the book, I just didn’t find the main storyline or any of the main POVs to be all that interesting. In focusing his attention on developing the science and the world-building, it almost felt as if the author neglected to develop his characters with the same amount of care and detail. For a long time, they were mostly defined by their diversity labels, and only later on did the deeper aspects of character-building come in, like personality, interests, and values. Perhaps that was why I never really felt too connected or sympathetic towards the characters.

Still, The Doors of Eden was by no means a bad book—it kept me turning the pages, after all. That said, I thought it could have been better—more entertaining and engaging at least, if the characters had been better developed right off the bat, and if the pacing had been a bit more even. Admittedly, I also expected a lot going into this novel, so that might have played a part in how I ultimately felt too. But is the disappointment going to make me any less excited to read the author’s books after this? Heck no. Like I said, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good read whenever you pick up something by Adrian Tchaikovsky, especially if you enjoy original and clever ideas in SFF. Children of Time remains my go-to recommendation when it comes to his work, but if the sound of The Doors of Eden captures your interest, I would check it out.

Waiting on Wednesday 10/14/20

Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that first originated at Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. Either way, this fun feature is a chance to showcase the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (June 15, 2021 by Orbit)

It’s been a while since I featured a retelling, and you know I could never resist a Red Riding Hood tale. The books name-dropped in the blurb are making it even harder to say no!

“The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.”

Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of Between Earth and Sky

Publisher: Saga Press (October 13, 2020)

Length: 464 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

I am stunned! I mean, I always knew Rebecca Roanhorse would go places ever since I read her debut Trail of Lightning, and I have also gone on to adore the follow-up Storm of Locusts as well as the novel she wrote for the new Star Wars universe, Resistance Reborn. Her first crack at epic fantasy, however, was even better than I could have imagined! Black Sun is incredible, my favorite work of hers yet.

Told via multiple perspectives, the story takes place in a world inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas. As the winter solstice descends upon the holy city of Tova, all the members of the Sky Made clans under the newly appointed Sun Priest would normally be preparing for the upcoming celebrations. But this year, the event would be coinciding with the solar eclipse, a sign of great disturbance. In Carrion Crow, disgraced among the clans, a fanatical group of renegades believe that it is a sign of the imminent return of their god who will take vengeance upon those who stripped them of their power generations ago.

Meanwhile in the city of Cuecola, exiled far from home, a Teek captain named Xiala finds herself taking on an unusual assignment. The job sounded easy enough when she agreed to it, involving the transport of a single passenger across the seas to Tova. As it turns out though, the passenger in question is a strange and unnerving young man—blinded, scarred, and rumored to have the ability to speak to crows. Called Serapio, his very presence makes Xiala and the crew uneasy, added to the fact that their benefactor has stipulated a nearly impossible deadline for their journey through treacherous waters. Anyone else would have said it can’t be done, but Xiala is no ordinary sailor. Her Teek heritage has bestowed upon her the magical power to use song to calm the oceans, to coax the waters into speeding them along. But of course, every voyage has its perils and unexpected destinies—some more than most.

Beautifully crafted and filled with lusciously detailed descriptions of exotic locales and memorable characters, Black Sun is as close to perfection as you can get. Fellow epic fantasy fans, these are the kinds of stories we live for, richly woven adventures that whisk us away to imaginative worlds full of complex magic. There’s also an effusion of cultures and religions colliding with layers upon layers of political intrigue, ultimately creating a web of perspectives that not only helps bind the narrative but offers deeper understanding into its themes as well.

But above all else, characters are at the heart of every good novel, and Roanhorse is an author who grasps this concept extremely well. Black Sun is completely character-focused, with the narrative alternating between our different POVs. Each one is a uniquely fleshed out individual, with well thought out personalities and backgrounds. Flashbacks are also occasionally used to provide past context, but these are always artfully worked into the present thread to flow seamlessly with the rest of the plot. My favorite character was hands down Xiala, followed closely behind by Serapio, and the two of them made this book very special, even if their relationship may have felt a bit rushed. However, watching this dynamic develop and grow between them was probably my greatest joy of reading this book.

If I’m being honest though, I could go on for hours about the things I loved about Black Sun. So many highly anticipated novels have disappointed me so far in 2020, but this one is the real deal, and not just because it has great characters and world-building. The story itself is genuinely entertaining and engaging, fueled by real motivations which are enacted in a relatable, human way. As a result, falling in love with this book was effortless, magical.

So, do yourself a favor—run, don’t walk, to pick up Black Sun. Then, make sure you have ample time in your schedule before reading, as you may find it impossible to stop once you start. I know that I personally found it hard to put this book down, and that doesn’t happen nearly enough with epic fantasy. Rebecca Roanhorse has proven once again her talent and versatility as a writer, and I am now an even bigger fan than before.