by Sarah Beth Durst
Set in a world where bone magic is prevalent, The Bonemaker is the tale of a group of retired heroes who are once again called to save their homes. When the evil they once vanquished, or thought they’d vanquished, seems to have risen again, they start to gather, feeling responsible for saving their people as they’d done in their youth.
But they’re not at all the heroes they once were. One has started a family. Another has gone insane. One isn’t even alive anymore. And this time around, they don’t seem to be wanted to save the world, their very attempts to convince others of the danger failing in the shadow of this new threat.
This is a novel about being a hero at any age. It’s about second chances, about being true to ourselves, and about the power people have when they trust one another and appreciate their own differences.
The Bonemaker, despite its bone magic and necromancy and skeletons, is not written in a dark fantasy fashion. It has an upbeat sense to it that soothes over the deathly consequences of the rising evil. The action scenes are exciting without feeling grimdark, the conflicts and setting are wondrous and worrisome without being dire.
Durst creates an amazing world here, one with different layers of bone magic–constructs and talismans, prophecy and power–and monstrous creatures with giant bones. It’s a world you’ll enjoy traveling inside, with a great deal of potential within to imagine just how wide and intricate a place with this kind of magic can be.
I recommend The Bonemaker for anyone who likes action adventure fantasy with inventive worlds and satisfying endings. Anyone who likes found families who reconnect. This novel is like being hugged warmly with the reminder that evil can be vanquished, regardless the shape or size of that evil.
SORCERY OF THORNS
Books about books are always fun, particularly when those books sing and bite and tell on little girls who aren’t where they should be.
This is a tale about Elisabeth, a young woman who grew up in one of the Great Libraries and was taught how to care for the books within. When a visit from a sorcerer and a subsequent attack leaves a dangerous grimoire stolen, Elizabeth finds herself being dragged to the capital and put on a path to solve the mystery of the sabotage and thievery before the Great Libraries fall to a power beyond imagining.
The cast is rounded out by a somewhat-friendly demon, who likes to turn into a cat, and a young sorcerer, who is somehow even less friendly. The story is engaging and quick, adventurous and fun, perfect for anyone looking for a light romp that takes them through magical libraries we all wish we had grown up within ourselves.
THE LAST SMILE IN SUNDER CITY
Want a little noir in your urban fantasy detective fiction? How about a lack of magic in your fantasy? In Sunder City, we have a bleak protagonist by the name of Fetch who doesn’t work for humans and, quite frankly, isn’t the best at taking care of himself either. But some of that is to be expected given his history and the recent destruction of all magic. Creatures and races that had once flourished have now become frail echoes of what they’d once been. The world has been upset in an awful fashion and Fetch is just doing what he can to help, even when nursing hangovers.
This novel is told in a present timeline with Fetch being hired to investigate a disappearance. As he goes about his investigation, the reader is treated to snippets of his history, of the world Fetch had lived in before the magic had been erased from existence. There’s a real loss of hope in this novel, a sinking feeling that permeates you as you read, a sense that no matter what Fetch does, it won’t make much difference, not to the people who need it most.
And yet, this isn’t a hopeless story, because Fetch is still going, still moving forward in the only way he knows how. And the rest of Sunder City is doing the same, some more successfully than others. You discover the answer to a couple mysteries by the end of this novel. You also get a beautiful sense that things can get better, that no matter how bad the world is, there are always ways to change the narrative, change the scene and move forward.
Posted in Recommendation
Tagged adventure fantasy, book, detective, fantasy, fiction, luke arnold, noir, novel, prose, reading, urban fantasy
RACE THE SANDS
Sarah Beth Durst
Monster racing! Within the first few words of this novel, you get introduced to an epic sport in this desert fantasy world, one that is both dangerous and hopeful. Our protagonists include Tamra (named after Tamora Pierce) and Raia—the former is a trainer and the latter becomes her trainee. Both of their futures are inexplicably twined as they they not only train together in order to set each of their futures right, but also struggle against governmental forces that are in flux behind the scenes.
Having both older and younger women in the lead seats of the story opens up the audience widely to encompass separate generations, each with a relatable conflict. Along with these two women, there is a third point-of-view character—a man who is striving to find the beast their most beloved and now recently passed-on ruler has been reborn as. His search takes him to the least likely creatures—the monsters (called kehoks) themselves.
This story is for those who want to read about second chances, about paving your own way, about fighting against rules that only exist for rules’ sake. I especially recommend this for those who love immersive secondary-worlds, with imaginative magics and creatures, that you might envision yourself right there with the characters riding your very own kehok.