Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015

Title: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (2019)
Author: P. Djèlí Clark
Pages: 130
Series: Fatma el-Sha’arawi #2 (Series Tracker)


Clark has imagined an incredible world here. Everything is so richly detailed and vivid. Although the mystery at the heart of this novella was not as compelling as the one in the original short story, A Dead Djinn in Cairo, the sharp writing and unexpected twists and turns will keep me coming back for as long as Clark keeps writing stories in this setting.

★★★¼

Review: Light of the Jedi

Title: Light of the Jedi (2021)
Author: Charles Soule
Pages: 381
Series: The High Republic #1, Star Wars Canon (Series Tracker)


Charles Soule has the enviable (or perhaps unenviable) task of breaking in The High Republic, a new era of Star Wars storytelling. He does so in an admirable way with Light of the Jedi. A time of peace and prosperity in the galaxy far, far away quickly comes to a violent end and this book racks up an insanely high body count.

The story itself is a bit sprawling and unfocused, but there are some intriguing new characters, plenty of Jedi action, and a batch of ferocious antagonists never before seen in the Star Wars universe (think the War Boys of Mad Max). I’ll happily seek out more stories in this universe, but I’d say this was a solid but somewhat unspectacular welcome to the new era.

★★★¼

Review: The Councillor

Title: The Councillor (March 2, 2021)
Author: E.J. Beaton
Pages: 484
Series: The Councillor #1 (Series Tracker)


Lysande is a scholar, plucked out of an academy at a young age to work for the Iron Queen of Elira. When the queen is killed by an unknown assassin, Lysande is thrust into a leadership role in the kingdom, with little support and only her wits to guide her.

What an outstanding debut novel. Lysande is a gem of a main character in a high fantasy world that feels familiar yet fresh. Beaton weaves an intricate plot packed to the brim with tantalizing ingredients – underground secret societies, complex political maneuvering, passionate romance, dastardly treachery, and forbidden magic. This book also tackles drug addiction in a way I haven’t seen in other fantasy novels. I’d strongly recommend this, especially for fans of Guy Gavriel Kay.

★★★★¼

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Nophek Gloss

Title: Nophek Gloss (2020)
Author: Essa Hansen
Pages: 480
Series: The Graven #1 (Series Tracker)


Caiden is on a quest for vengeance after his family’s subjugation and slaughter. His anger and hatred are unrelenting. His desire to quench his thirst for vengeance fuels the main quest of this novel. Caiden’s journey to enact revenge is brutal but not without a beating heart. Whether blood-related or found-family, his love for his family drives everything.

Exciting, Inventive, and packed with imaginative ideas – Hansen’s debut space opera is the coolest novel I’ve read in some time. It’s hard science fiction at its finest.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thanks to Orbit for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo

a-dead-djinn-in-cairoTitle: A Dead Djinn in Cairo (2016)
Author: 
P. Djèlí Clark
Pages: 
45
Series: Fatma el-Sha’arawi #1 (Series Tracker)


P. Djèlí Clark’s short story tells a tale of an alternate Cairo filled with steampunk flourishes, supernatural oddities, and a deadly plot that could destroy the world. Clark packs a complete story into this vivid setting and it works splendidly. A considerable amount of time is spent on exposition, but it’s all fascinating and I imagine it makes this story a great primer for both his 2019 novella and his 2021 novel, which are set in the same world. I’ll surely be checking those out after this excellent start.

★★★★ out of 5

Review: The Dragonbone Chair

The Dragonbone ChaiirTitle: The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
Author: 
Tad Williams
Pages: 
672
Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #1, Osten Ard Saga #1 (Series Tracker)


What an enjoyable read. This story feels special and timeless. Williams’s worldbuilding is deep and impressive. Although he raises considerably more questions than he answers, I’m fully invested in seeing this through to the end.

This series has been on my TBR pile for the longest while and if all goes well, I hope to work my way through the remaining Osten Ard books in anticipation of the new book being released in 2021.

★★★★¼ out of 5

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Invisible LifeTitle: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (2020)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Pages: 448


Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil to be free, but at the price of being forgotten. We follow her over the next 300 years dealing with the repercussions of her Faustian bargain. 

While initially engrossing, I never quite fell in love with this book. In fact, my feelings matched how I felt after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab’s most popular novel – well-written, intriguing premise, but it could never quite win me over. I felt every one of LaRue’s 300 years and I was exhausted by the end, which I suppose was the point, but in the end, the ultimate destination did not make the journey worthwhile. Schwab may not be the right author for me, but judging by the exuberant reaction to this book by critics and readers alike, it seems I’m in the minority here.

★★★ out of 5

Review: Call of the Bone Ships

The-Call-of-The-Bone-ShipsTitle: Call of the Bone Ships (November 24, 2020)
Author: R.J. Barker
Pages: 512
Series: The Tide Child #2 (Series Tracker)


Despite its massive storms, brutal battles, and monstrous fauna, R.J. Barker keeps the characters at the forefront of his world. The ever-evolving relationships between Joron, Lucky Meas, and the Tide Child crew are really wonderful. Specific attention was paid to flesh out the backstories of several background crew members, which allows them to carry the narrative when Joron or Lucky Meas are sidelined. That said, Gullaime the windtalker remains the standout character of the series and it was exciting to see it again and learn more about its species.

Barker absolutely stuck the landing with this second book of the Tide Child trilogy. The Bone Ships was my favorite book of 2019 and this sequel will surely vie for a top spot in 2020. Every moment spent voyaging through Barker’s Scattered Archipelago is incredibly satisfying. I highly recommend this series.

★★★★¼ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Piranesi

PiranesiTitle: Piranesi (2020)
Author: Susanna Clarke
Pages: 272


It was a real delight to be lost in the labyrinthian walls of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi. Clarke’s dizzying descriptions of endless hallways, vestibules, and staircases was disorienting but also mesmerizing.

Piranesi, our kindhearted and peculiar main character, is a wonderful window into this world. There are many mysteries that surround him and the maze he finds himself in. Clarke answers more of these riddles than felt necessary, but ultimately, this is a cracking good read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a brief escape to a more hopeful world.

★★★★¼ out of 5