Today is the official release day for the trade edition of Green by Jay Lake.
Lake (Escapement) makes a shift from steampunk to lush fantasy filled with exotic locales and exquisite descriptions. Sold as a child, raised and educated as a courtesan and secretly trained as an assassin, strong-willed Green retains her unyielding sense of independence, leading her to make drastic, unwise choices. Often used as a pawn and occasionally betrayed, she perseveres in trying to gain a measure of control over her life and a place to call home. Her goals become harder to reach when she’s caught up in the machinations of immortals and power games of meddling gods. Despite an occasionally episodic feel and some rocky pacing that suggests it might have worked better split over several installments, the story is nicely powered by strong mythic undertones and a fresh take on the relationship between gods and mortals. –Publishers Weekly
Due to circumstances beyond my control, and an ongoing stressful situation, I was unable to laud these earlier February books.
Pack of Lies by Laura Anne Gilman
Gilman follows 2010’s Hard Magic with another winning mix of snappy writing and a fun and intelligent story about crime-solving magic users. Bonita Torres loves working with Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI), but the team’s latest case, the attempted rape of a magical ki-rin’s human companion, has her on edge. The ki-rin killed one assailant and partially disemboweled the other, and everything looks simple until the survivor claims she was used as bait. Human/nonhuman relations are already unstable and could explode if PUPI can’t figure out what really happened. Riding on the case are a woman’s reputation, a man’s death, and the future of PUPI. Grabbing readers from the get-go, Gilman delivers style and substance with layers of mystery, science, politics, romance, and old-fashioned investigative work mixed with high-tech spellcraft. –Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Bad Bird: A Mystery by Chris Knopf
As sole witness to the crash of a Cessna in the Hamptons, lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski retrieves the camera case that pilot Eugenie Birkson tossed out of the plane just before it exploded. Wanting in on the investigation, Jackie offers to defend Eugenie’s husband during the accident investigation, but her real interest is in the pictures on Eugenie’s camera. As she puzzles over the images, she finds faces she recognizes and is led back to her own damaged past and to her long-lost brother. Tenacious in pursuit of answers, Jackie takes up residence in her office after being attacked in her home. This sequel to Short Squeeze: A Mystery (2010) continues the series spun-off from Knopf’s acclaimed Sam Acquillo novels. Jackie, a lawyer inclined to skirt the law, is persistent to the point of bullheadedness and sometimes too fearless for her own good. Readers may want to scream warnings to her in the suspenseful final pages of this fine hard-boiled crime novel, which effectively combines action and introspection. — Booklist
The Sea Thy Mistress by Elizabeth Bear
This direct sequel to Elizabeth Bear’s highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story some fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens. Beautiful Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son–Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches…the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, has travelled forward in time on her rainbow steed. She came expecting to gloat over a dead world, the proof of her revenge, but instead she finds a Rekindled land, renewed by Muire’s sacrifice. She will have her revenge by forcing this new Bearer of Burdens to violate her oaths and break her bounds and thus bring about the true and final end of Valdyrgard. She will do it by tormenting both Cathoair and his son Cathmar. But Mingan, the gray wolf, sees his old enemy Heythe’s return. He will not allow it to happen again.
“Bear’s willingness to let her characters bleed gives this post-post-apocalyptic tale its melodramatic edge.” — Publishers Weekly