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World Fantasy Awards
2018
Jade City
Book Jacket   Fonda Lee
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316440868 In this intrigue-packed adventure, first in a trilogy set in an Asia-inspired, alternate-world modern city (and the first book for adults from YA author Lee), warring clans battle for control of their island nation and the jade that empowers them to perform superhuman feats. For decades, the Green Bone warriors of the No Peak and Mountain clans have maintained a delicate peace, hewing to a rigid code of honor as they control Janloon's neighborhoods and industries. But ambition, treachery, and the rise of a new generation of leaders lead to open conflict between the factions. The members of No Peak must wage war on all fronts, including political and economic, but the real battle is in the streets, where their jade-enhanced champions fight to the death. As this ambitious and complex story unfolds, Lee (Exo) skillfully juggles a huge cast. Her action scenes are flashy, brutal, and cinematic, while the family dynamics hold their own weight and significance. This is an engaging blend of crime drama and Asian martial arts film tropes. At times, the modern elements-cars, televisions, guns-feel out of place in such a strongly envisioned world, but this remains an intense, satisfying experience. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316440868 Lee's launches an adult series and makes the transition from young adult to more mature audiences without a stumble. It's a mash-up urban fantasy-Mob story with some martial arts thrown in, with well-formed characters and impeccable world building. Protecting the island of Kekon from foreign invaders has been the duty of the Green Bones for centuries. These warriors enhance their abilities by channeling the magical properties of jade, and only some are allowed, or able, to wear the precious stone. But as the threat from without disappears, the threat from within intensifies between the Mafia-like families of the Green Bones. When a new drug emerges on the market, it is the spark that starts a war between these families. For those who enjoy both fantasy and urban fantasy, this book is an easy fit. But even for those who don't normally read the genre, the world and characters will be enough to draw them in and hold their attention.--Kuczwara, Dawn Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Two clans fueled by the magical power of jade battle for control of an analog of mid-20th-century Hong Kong.Clan soldiers have a specific genetic affinity for jade not shared by most outsiders, which grants them strength and shielding, among other magical powers. Kaul Sen, the former Pillar (head) of the No Peak clan, has retired, and the new Pillar, Kaul Lan, doesn't quite inspire the fear and loyalty garnered by his legendary grandfather or his late war hero father. His younger brother, Kaul Hilo, is an effective Horn (chief enforcer), but he's also rash and impulsive. Sensing weakness in her rival, Ayt Madashi, the ruthless Pillar of the Mountain clan, begins a campaign to destroy No Peak and take total control of the island nation of Kekon. The setting suggests that this crime-thriller/fantasy might find inspiration in history and fiction about the triads, and perhaps it does, but it also clearly leans heavily on elements drawn from The Godfather. Some examples (beyond the general plot of crime families battling for supremacy): an adoptive member of the Kaul family is kidnapped by the Mountain to serve as intermediary; the Mountain wants to sell drugs and initially seeks No Peak's help with the business; the character of Hilo bears some similarity to Sonny Corleone, while the third Kaul grandchild, Shae, traces part of the path of Michael Corleone (she's spent years outside the clan pursuing her own interests but her loyalties drag her back when tragedy strikes). Despite those beats, Lee's (Exo, 2017, etc.) novel has its own story to tell; an intriguing confluence of history, culture, and biology shapes both the characters and their fates.The open-ended nature of the ending suggests that the clan war is not yet over; it'll be interesting to see what course Lee charts next. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316440868 For centuries, the Green Bone warriors defended the island of Kekon from foreign invasion by using jade to enhance their physical and mental abilities. But now the peace is disintegrating as rival families compete to control Janloon, the capital city. Heading the No Peak clan are the Kauls. Eldest son Lan leads as Pillar, but he struggles with health issues and his grandfather's efforts to seize control; sister Shae gave up her jade when she chose another path, but she has reluctantly been brought back into the family; youngest brother Hilo wields power as the Horn but is burdened by family issues. Yet as the Mountain clan, led by the notorious Ayt family, moves onto No Peak's territory, and the Kauls try to stop their inevitable slide into clan war, the siblings discover much more is wrong beneath the surface tensions. VERDICT Making her adult fiction debut, YA author Lee (Zeroboxer) draws on her Chinese heritage, passion for gangster stories, and strong writing to launch a Godfather-inspired fantasy series that mixes bold martial-arts action and vivid worldbuilding. The result is terrific. [Previewed in Marlene Harris's "Galaxy Quests" sf/fantasy preview, LJ 4/15/17.]-KC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316440868 Janloon, a city susceptible to typhoons, is better known throughout the modern world as Jade City because of how members of clan fiefdoms depend on the power of jade to give their bodies heightened senses and strength. Lan, the eldest Kaul brother, leads the No Peak clan, assisted by his fear-inducing 27-year-old brother. The Green Bone brothers are wary when their scorned younger sister returns home from a two-year exile, but they need her aid when the clan is attacked by Jade City's rival mafialike family. Shine, an illegal drug that allows all citizens to become empowered by jade, infiltrates the city, and all of the Kaul family members, including the youngest adopted brother still attending the Green Bone training academy, join forces to save their people. Lee, best known for the debut YA science fiction/mixed martial arts novel Zeroboxer, makes her adult debut here. The juxtaposition of modern technology (subways and television) against the ancient social structure of clans in an Asian-inspired city sets this fantasy apart. VERDICT Revenge killings will draw action readers, and the powerful and flawed relationship dynamics between the Kaul siblings will keep teens enthralled. Perfect for epic fantasy fans.-Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Sudden Appearance of Hope
Book Jacket   Claire North
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316335997 *Starred Review* North follows up her brilliant The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (2014) and Touch (2015) with the equally spellbinding story of a young woman with a devastating affliction. When she was 16, Hope Arden began to notice that people were forgetting her; her friends suddenly behaved as though they didn't know who she was, and her parents seemed surprised when she came home, as though they weren't aware they had a daughter. Soon the truth became apparent: the world was forgetting Hope. Hope turns to a life of crime thievery, after all, is a natural career path for someone who is almost immediately forgotten by everyone she comes into contact with until the death of another woman shows Hope that there may be a way to cure herself and become ordinary again. Like Harry August and Touch, this is a very risky novel, with a premise that could easily be dismissed by readers as ludicrous, if it weren't for the author's ability to make us believe. Beautifully written, with a protagonist who is both tragic and heroic, the novel is remarkably powerful and deeply memorable, the latest in a string of terrific books from this newly emerged star in the genre-blending universe.--Pitt, David Copyright 2016 Booklist
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2016
The Chimes
 Anna Smaill
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A melodic, immersive dystopian tale set in a London where writing is lost and song has replaced story. It's some time after the cataclysmic Allbreaking, and the powerful Order has set all to rights. Every evening now, their bells peal out a soothing chorus of harmony that overwhelms body and mind. Living in an eternal present, residents of Britain rely on the rituals of "bodymemory" and their private hoards of "objectmemories"a muddy raincoat, a shard of platein order to cling to the slippery knowledge of who they are. In inventive language that perfectly captures the disrupted nature of this world, debut novelist Smaill introduces us to Simon, through whom we experience this richly realized future. Simon runs with a "pact" of fellow teens in the "under"the dark tunnels and tracks leftover from when Britain had electricity. Guided by the pact leader, Lucien, whose musical gifts more than make up for his blindness, they scavenge in "thamesmuck" for nuggets of precious pale "mettle" to sell on the black market. Simon has settled into this life despite the unusual clarity with which he can visualize his past, which once included a family. But to Simon's great disturbance, Lucien starts asking him to share these stories of his past, in violation of all social codes. When Simon does begin to piece his memories together with Lucien's, they discover the horror of how this world of seeming harmony came to be. After the deft and engaging worldbuilding of the first half, the second half of the novel slips into a swift and simple quest narrative, but it's one plaited with an unexpected story of first love. As the novel reaches its crescendo, the poignancy of memory, with all its attendant pain and loss, faces down the dangers of a perfection built on ignorant bliss. Entrancingly poetic and engagingly plotted, this is a story that brims with heart and soul. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781681445342 Simon is on a mission to find a person in London, and the only information he has is a song. Simon's goal makes more sense when one understands that the England of The Chimes is one controlled by music and memory loss. Every day, the enigmatic elite ruling class known as the Order plays a particular kind of music to wipe society's memory. To remember certain aspects of their past and daily life, citizens rely on their muscle memory and items they carry with them. Those that can't make it from the day-to-day or lose their memory items become zombie-like creatures called the memorylost. Without the ability to retain any sort of history, collective memory, or even written language, the culture is one that revolves around the preservation of the few memories possible and music. Sound seems to envelope the characters throughout the text, which is conveyed by wonderfully lyrical language and the consistent references to everything as beats or rhythm. This imaginative novel from poet Smaill was longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.--Whitmore, Emily Copyright 2016 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781681445342 After an apocalyptic event known as the Allbreaking, most survivors are left unable to hold on to long-term memories, instead centering their communication on music, which seems to help them remember. Simon has traveled from his home outside of London to the city after his mother's death, carrying his memory objects in an old canvas sack. While given instructions on whom to talk to in London, Simon has forgotten the details and is left wandering near the Thames. There he meets and falls in with a gang of metal pickers, led by Lucien. Though blind, Lucien hears and sings the melodies that keep his crew safe. He also senses that Simon's recall is special, and if he could only recollect enough, together they could change their world. The novel's purposefully confusing beginning mirrors Simon's bewilderment, and patient readers will be well rewarded as the reality of Simon's world swims into focus and the story suddenly becomes gripping and impossible to put down. VERDICT One of a kind, both in its dystopian landscape and use of gorgeous language throughout (including clever musical terms), this debut takes time to digest but is worth the effort. Fans of the eloquence and imagery of Jeff -VanderMeer's "Southern Reach" trilogy and the spare desolation of Cormac -McCarthy's The Road will adore this original work.-MM © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
2015
The Bone Clocks
 David Mitchell
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781400065677 *Starred Review* Reviewing Hari Kunzru's Gods without Men in the March 8, 2012, New York Times, Douglas Coupland coined the term translit to describe a new kind of novel that collapses time and space as it seeks to generate narrative traction in the reader's mind. The term itself has been gaining plenty of traction, too, as more and more writers adapt genre-bending strategies to a highly complex but entrancing form of literary fiction. Besides Kunzru, Haruki Murakami clearly falls into this category (especially his 1Q84, 2011), as does Nick Harkaway (in Angelmaker, 2012), but David Mitchell also deserves a seat at the head of the translit table, and his new book, The Bone Clocks, just may become the quintessential example of translit fiction, not only in its complexity and thematic richness, but also in the remarkable narrative propulsion that drives its many-cylindered engine. The book opens in the grand tradition of coming-of-age novels distinguished by their hypnotic, first-person narrators, but while the voice of British teenager Holly Sykes can hold its own with those of Holden Caulfield or John Green's Hazel Grace Lancaster, it is merely the opening salvo in this multivoiced, harmonically layered narrative symphony that stretches with occasional sojourns far back in time from the 1980s, when Holly runs away from home, into the 2040s, when she is attempting to cope with an oil-depleted world descending into chaos. But plot summaries are a far too simplistic device for talking about this novel. It is neither coming-of-age story nor dystopian fiction; nor is it fantasy, contemporary satire, or high-concept adventure thriller, though it surely has elements of all of those and more. That's the thing with translit: it shows us how feeble our pigeonholing genre categories can be when applied to a novel that sets out to break boundaries on multiple levels. Those boundaries begin to shatter when the young Holly hears what she calls the radio people, voices from another dimension. Gradually, Mitchell introduces us to an epic conflict being staged beyond the world of mundane life, a Harry Potter-like duel to the death between two groups able to traverse time: the Atemporals, also called Horologists, who are born with the capacity for living again after one self dies (they may die permanently, however, if they are killed before experiencing a natural death), and the Anchorites, who also have the psychic power to regenerate themselves but only if they feed (like vampires) off the souls of other psychically endowed mortals (like Holly). The Atemporals, led by a character called Marinus, a veteran of multiple lives over centuries, are trying both to save Holly from the Anchorites and to use her to help them deliver the coup de grâce that will wipe out the soul-decanting Anchorites forever. That sounds a little too cartoony, perhaps, but it doesn't read that way. Mitchell builds his characters as carefully as he does his worlds, and by the time the final battle takes place, we are thoroughly invested in the story and the people. By that time, too, we have followed those characters and many others through six time-jumping sections, each a smaller-scale tour de force of its own. Especially engaging is a section set essentially in the present and featuring a once-successful novelist watching his career slip away through a succession of writers' conferences that vividly capture the bane of creeping mediocrity. Remarkably, all of these disparate sections connect perfectly, not just as plot elements, but as aspects of a greater thematic whole. The novel is a meditation on mortality, of course, but also on the hazards of immortality and the perils of power. It is our failing novelist, though, who gives us the perfect metaphor for understanding the thematic reach of Mitchell's masterpiece. Rambling on about Icelandic literature at a conference in Reykjavík, he notes that writers are fascinated with the edges of maps. Those edges are at the heart of translit, and the The Bone Clocks delivers a finely detailed cartography of their every variation. This novel will be one of the most talked-about books of the year, as well it should be; it's a triumph on every one of its many levels.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2014 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781400065677 In his breathtaking, audacious, stampedingly beautiful latest, Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) uses the battle between evil soul decanters and good Horologists, who are masterminded by the wise, powerful, body-shifting Marinus, to tell a much larger story. It's a story that embraces the life of Holly Sykes, from a bad boyfriend moment in the Talking Heads era, discovering that her brother has gone missing, running from home, witnessing the first bloody clash between good and evil when people who take her in are murdered, then recognizing her psychic powers and continuing the run to a snowbound resort in the Alps. There, she encounters sly Hugo, an amoral lout aspiring to the upper crust who redeems himself somewhat by discovering that he loves her. Holly goes on to marry war reporter Ed, who refuses to acknowledge Holly's connection to the beyond; wins fame writing a book about her experiences, leading to some wonderfully rendered satire about the writer's world; and finally plays her part in the final battle between the ethereal forces that have been tracking her all along. (Then the narrative moves to war and ecological crash in the 2040s; bad stuff never stops.) This really isn't a book about Holly, though, but about the variety of fantastically rendered worlds we move through as her story unfolds-which is to say our world, past, present, and looming future, brought to us through a fantasy underpinning that juices up the narrative but isn't its heart. Mitchell's not doing genre but asking us ever-ticking bone clocks to stop being so comfortable with how we measure ourselves and our world: "Beware of asking people to question what's real and what isn't. They may reach conclusions you didn't see coming." Verdict Quite a lot of book and not for easy-reading fans, but it's brilliant. [See Prepub Alert, 5/19/14.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Mitchells latest could have been called The Rime of the Ancient Marinusthe youthful ancient Marinus, that is. Another exacting, challenging and deeply rewarding novel from logophile and time-travel master Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, 2004, etc.).As this long (but not too long) tale opens, were in the familiar territory of Mitchells Black Swan Green (2006)Thatchers England, that is. A few dozen pages in, and Mitchell has subverted all that. At first its 1984, and Holly Sykes, a 15-year-old suburban runaway, is just beginning to suss out that its a scary, weird place, if with no shortage of goodwilled protectors. She wants nothing but to get away: The Thames is riffled and muddy blue today, and I walk and walk and walk away from Gravesend towards the Kent marshes and before I know it, its 11:30 and the towns a little model of itself, a long way behind me. Farther down the road, Holly has her first inkling of a strange world in which Horologists bound up with one Yu Leon Marinus and, well, sort-of-neo-Cathars are having it out, invited into Hollys reality thanks to a tear in her psychic fabric. Are they real? As one strange inhabitant of a daymare asks, But why would two dying, fleeing incorporeals blunder their way to you, Holly Sykes? Why indeed? The next 600 pages explain why in a course that moves back and forth among places (Iceland, Switzerland, Iraq, New York), times and states of reality: Holly finds modest success in midlife even as we bone clocks tick our way down to a society of her old age that will remind readers of the world of Slooshas Crossin from Cloud Atlas: The oil supply has dried up, the poles are melting, gangs roam the land, and the old days are a long way behind us. We live on, says an ever unreliable narrator by way of resigned closing, as long as there are people to live on in.If Thatchers 1984 is bleak, then get a load of what awaits us in 2030. Speculative, lyrical and unrelentingly darktrademark Mitchell, in other words. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780812994735 Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? We begin in the punk years with a teenage Talking Heads-obsessed runaway from Gravesend, England, named Holly Sykes. She becomes a pawn in a spiritual war between the mysterious "Radio People" and the benevolent Horologists, led by the body-shifting immortal Marinus. Many more characters and places soon find themselves worked into Marinus's "Script" across the book's six sections: there's Hugo Lamb, a cunning, amoral Cambridge student spending Christmas 1991 in Switzerland, where he encounters an older Holly tending bar; then it's the height of the Bush/Blair years, and our narrator is Holly's husband, Edmund Brubeck, a war reporter dispatched to Baghdad. Another flash-forward lands us in the present day, where the middling novelist Crispin Hershey weathers a succession of literary feuds, becomes confidante of a New Agey Holly and her daughter, then has his own unsettling encounter with the Radio People. In the penultimate section, Marinus reveals the nature of the Script-the secret conflict lurking just beneath mortal affairs-and how Holly may be the key to a resolution whose repercussions won't be known until 2043, when the aged Holly rides out a curiously sedate end-time in rural Ireland. From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) novel is a thing of beauty. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781464018510 Using a variation of the storytelling structure he employed in Cloud Atlas, Mitchell weaves six interrelated first-person narratives into an epic tale that "follows" the character Holly Sykes from 1984 to 2043. Mitchell presents the reader with everyday human experiences that carry the hint-and sometimes more than a hint-of something supernatural affecting the lives of people ("bone clocks") on Earth. Clever, engaging, and often fun (readers of earlier Mitchell works should look for familiar characters), this novel is slightly flawed but eventually successful. The flaw is in the fifth narrative, in which listeners learn about those supernatural beings, immortals ("atemporals") who are waging an epic battle between good and evil; the storytelling here becomes slightly tedious but finds its footing again in the sixth and final narrative. VERDICT Although this type of story structure can be difficult to follow in audio form, the use of six readers-Jessica Ball, Leon Williams, Colin Mace, Steven Crossley, Laurel Lefkow, and Anna Bentinck-helps listeners find their way through this sweeping and ultimately extremely satisfying tale. ["Quite a lot of book and not for easy-reading fans, but it's brilliant," read the starred review of the Random hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 10/10/14; an LJ Top Ten Best Book of 2014.]-Wendy Galgan, St. Francis Coll., Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2014
A Stranger in Olondria
Book Jacket   Sofia Samatar
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781618730626 Samatar's- richly woven debut fantasy takes us far from home. Growing up in the primitive isolation of the Tea Islands, Jevick has longed to travel to the spice markets in Bain, where the family's pepper harvest is sold. He impatiently devours descriptions and stories when his imperious father returns every season, and the arrival of an Olondrian tutor only adds to the allure of the unknown land. When Jevick finally begins his own voyage, he discovers he is traveling down a perilous path of mystery, passion, and danger that no counsel could have foreseen. A chance meeting of a young woman traveling on a pilgrimage will change the course of Jevick's life forever. VERDICT Jevick's journey is an enchanting tale of wonder and superstition, revealing the power of books and the secret traditions of ancient voices. Samatar's sensual descriptions create a rich, strange landscape, allowing a lavish adventure to unfold that is haunting and unforgettable.-Jennifer Anderson-, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Corpus Christi (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781931520768 Samatar weaves superstition, religion, politics, and a strong love of reading into a biography of Jissavet, a simple illiterate girl who has died young. The frame story depicts Jevick of Tyom's first trip to the country of Olondria after his father's death. A modern young man, Jevick can read and write, something most of his people in Tyom cannot do, and loves the time spent in Bain, the Incomparable City. When Jissavet's ghost begins haunting him, Jevick thinks he's going mad, the Olondrian priesthood thinks he's a fraud masquerading as a saint, and a group of religious fanatics become convinced he has magical powers. Somehow he has to navigate the warring factions in Olondria and work up the courage to listen to Jissavet, because it's the only way to help her soul and stop the haunting. Some of the religious and cultural terms are never clearly defined, and context is not always sufficient, but the country and the people are vividly painted. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2013
Alif the Unseen
Book Jacket   G. Willow Wilson
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780802120205 The award-winning graphics novel author, also hailed for a memoir, offers a much-anticipated fiction debut blending political intrigue, cyberfantasy, and The Arabian Nights. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Modern hacker culture and ancient Muslim mysticism collide in the debut work of fiction from Wilson, better known as a graphic novelist. Alif, the pseudonym of the Arab-Indian hero of this novel, is a young hacker living in an unnamed city in the Persian Gulf, providing support to various groups who want to avoid government censors. Heartbroken when he discovers his love has been betrothed to another man, Alif writes a program that can help him secretly detect her online activity, but the program catches the attention of the government, setting in motion a convoluted series of adventures involving an ancient Arabian Nights-esque tome called the Alf Yeom, religious leaders, otherworldly creatures and, quite literally, the girl next door. The most engaging members of this menagerie arrive early, including Vikram the Vampire, an imposing guide to the world of the jinn, and a female American Muslim-convert who sheds light on the mysterious text. Both give Wilson an opportunity to explore the more mystical elements of the Koran in particular and Islam in general, and she also clears plenty of room to discuss repressive regimes and East-West understandings. The novel is timely, especially as it surges toward an Arab Spring-themed conclusion. But though Wilson, a Muslim convert (documented in her 2010 memoir, The Butterfly Mosque), displays a savvy knowledge of Muslim arcana, the story is overstuffed with left turns and a host of characters and bogs down in jargon about hacker tools and techniques. Given relatively short shrift are samples from the Alf Yeom itself, which, when they do appear, offer some wry fables that are engaging in their simplicity. Larger doses of those stories' pithiness and charm would give this thriller more spirit. Wilson displays an admirable Neil Gaiman-esque ambition that isn't quite matched by this oft-plodding tale.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780802120205 *Starred Review* The scripter of the graphic novel Cairo (2007) and writer of the memoir The Butterfly Mosque (2010) here offers her first prose novel, ushering the energy of the Arab Spring into urban fantasy while unleashing jinns into the digital age. A young hacker-for-hire who goes by the handle Alif becomes an enemy of the state (an unspecified Middle Eastern emirate) after his computer program, designed to suss out the identity of a user solely through keystroke patterns and language tendencies, catches the eye of the iron-clad security presence known as the Hand. Alif has also come into possession of the fabled Alf Yeom, a book that supposedly compiles the entire knowledge of the jinn (which, surprise, are real, and, in the case of the saucy and dangerous Vikram the Vampire, a bit too real). Both Alif and the Hand see in this book the inspiration for a quantum leap in computing sophistication, but will it be a tool for revolution or a means to obliterate dissent? Wilson has a lot on her mind with this ambitious and layered novel, which swirls about ideas of theology, technology, activism, class conflict, and cultural inquiry without getting bogged down in any of them. As timely and thoughtful as it is edgy and exciting, this dervish of a novel wraps modern tendrils around ancient roots, spanning the gulf between ones and zeros, haves and have-nots, and seen and unseen worlds.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780802120205 Set in an unnamed Arab emirate, Wilson's intriguing, colorful first novel centers on a callow Arab-Indian computer hacker who calls himself "Alif," the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. Alif surreptitiously creates digital protection, at a price, for Islamic dissidents being threatened by the chief of state security (aka "the Hand of God"). When Intisar, Alif's aristocratic beloved, opportunistically throws Alif over for the Hand, he flees into the desert, along with a female neighbor, Dina, pursued by the Hand. Dina carries the 700-year-old jinn-dictated The Thousand and One Days (the inverse of The Thousand and One Nights), which contains secrets disguised in stories that may help Alif remake his world. Wilson (The Butterfly Mosque, a memoir) provocatively juxtaposes ancient Arab lore and equally esoteric computer theory, highlighting the many facets of the East-West conflict while offering few insights, to some readers' regret, into possible resolutions of that conflict. 10-city author tour. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780802120205 Known for her award-winning memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, and her comics (Cairo; Air), Wilson instills imaginative storytelling in her debut novel set in the modern Middle East.ÅAlif, a hacker by trade who provides systems security for the rich and poor alike, falls in love with a young woman from a privileged family.ÅShe is engaged to a member of the state police who is leading the hunt for the secret programming code Alif unwittingly created.ÅFollowing the clues in an ancient manuscript titled The Thousand and One Days, Alif allies himself with his Muslim neighbor, an American convert, the sheikh of the local mosque, and an army of shapeshifting jinn to solve the code.ÅVERDICT Wilson skillfully weaves a story linking modern-day technologies and computer languages to the folklore and religion of the Middle East.ÅFor readers ready for adventure and looking for original storytelling, this excellent novel supersedes genres as easily as its characters jump from one reality to another. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]-Catherine Lantz, Morton College Lib., Cicero, Il (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2012
Osama
 Lavie Tidhar
  Book Jacket
2011
Who Fears Death
 Nnedi Okorafor
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780756406172 Well-known for young adult novels (The Shadow Speaks; Zahrah the Windseeker), Okorafor sets this emotionally fraught tale in postapocalyptic Saharan Africa. The young sorceress Onyesonwu-whose name means "Who fears death?"-was born Ewu, bearing a mixture of her mother's features and those of the man who raped her mother and left her for dead in the desert. As Onyesonwu grows into her powers, it becomes clear that her fate is mingled with the fate of her people, the oppressed Okeke, and that to achieve her destiny, she must die. Okorafor examines a host of evils in her chillingly realistic tale-gender and racial inequality share top billing, along with female genital mutilation and complacency in the face of destructive tradition-and winds these disparate concepts together into a fantastical, magical blend of grand storytelling. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780756406172 In her astonishing debut, Okorafor has created a desolate, postapocalyptic Africa of endless desert, failing technology, superstition, and magic. But life is not without hope. Prophesy speaks of a sorcerer who will change the future, end the wars and slavery, and reunite the people. Onyesonwu is a child of rare talent. Conceived by rape, physically different from her peers, Onyesonwu has the light skin, fair hair, and freckles that traditionally mark her as unworthy, frightening, ugly, and evil. But rather than accepting her outcast role, a defiant Onyesonwu uses her magic to prove herself, avenge her mother's rape, and lead her people. Verdict Beautifully written, this is dystopian fantasy at its very best. Expertly exploring issues of race, gender, and cultural identity, Okorafor blends future fantasy with the rhythm and feel of African storytelling.-Jennifer Beach, Indiana State Lib., Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2010
The City and The City
Book Jacket   China Mieville
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780345497512 Adult/High School-A blend of near-future science fiction and police procedural, this novel is a successful example of the hybrid genre so popular of late. In a contemporary time period, two fantastical cities somewhere between Europe and Asia exist, not adjacent to one another, but by literally occupying the same area. Forbidden to acknowledge the existence of one another-a discipline imposed by the shadowy and terrifying entity known as Breach-residents in both cities have honed the ability to "unsee" people, places, and events existing in the other realm. This ticklish balance ruptures when Inspector Tyador Borl of the Extreme Crime Squad must investigate the murder of a foreign archaeological student. Long after the book's satisfying conclusion, astute readers will have much to ponder, such as the facility with which Authority can manipulate and repress a population and the attendant ills that life in such a society inevitably generate. Add in the novel's highly effective cover art and the result is a book that may appeal as much to a young, new-to-Mieville audience as it will to his loyal fans.-Dori DeSpain, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780345497512 *Starred Review* Fantasy author Mieville (Looking for Jake, 2005) puts his own unique spin on the detective story. Inspector Tyador Borlu, a lonely police detective, is assigned to the murder of a young woman found dumped in a park on the edge of Beszel, an old city, decaying and mostly forgotten, situated in an unspecified area on the southeastern fringes of Europe. But Beszel does not exist alone; it shares much of the same physical space with Ul Qoma. Each city retains a distinct culture and style, and the citizenry of both places has elaborate rules and rituals to avoid the dreaded Breach, which separates the two across space and time. This unique setting becomes one of the most important and well-developed characters in the novel, playing a pivotal role in the mystery when Tyador discovers that his murder case is much more complex than a dumped body, requiring international cooperation with the Ul Qoman authorities. Eschewing the preliminary world-building techniques of many fantasy books, Mieville dumps the reader straight into Tyador's world of crosshatching and unseeing, only gradually developing and explaining his one-of-a kind setting. Suggest to readers who enjoyed Michael Chabon's alternate-history mystery, The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007), or to fans of the futuristic urban setting in A. L. Martinez's Automatic Detective (2008). An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans.--Moyer, Jessica Copyright 2009 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780345497512 Mieville (Un Lun Dun; Perdido Street Station) tells vivid stories in the borderlands of literary fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and here he adds noir crime to the mix. Fittingly, his tale is set in the borderlands, creating a mysterious pair of cities somewhere on Europe's eastern edge. Beszel and Ul Qoma share the same ground, but their citizens are not allowed to react to one another, learning to "unsee" the other city and its inhabitants from a young age. Enforcing this division is a mysterious power called Breach. When an archaeology student is found dead, Inspector Tyador Borl gets caught up in a case that forces him to navigate precariously between the cities, perhaps into the sinister worlds that straddle them. It's a fascinating premise. Unfortunately, the cities, protagonist, and case remain stubbornly in the haze. For all genre fiction collections because Mieville is a trailblazer with a dedicated following, but this work is more an existential thought piece than a reading pleasure. [Library marketing.]-Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780345497512 Better known for New Weird fantasies (Perdido Street Station, etc.), bestseller Mieville offers an outstanding take on police procedurals with this barely speculative novel. Twin southern European cities Beszel and Ul Qoma coexist in the same physical location, separated by their citizens' determination to see only one city at a time. Inspector Tyador Borl of the Extreme Crime Squad roams through the intertwined but separate cultures as he investigates the murder of Mahalia Geary, who believed that a third city, Orciny, hides in the blind spots between Beszel and Ul Qoma. As Mahalia's friends disappear and revolution brews, Tyador is forced to consider the idea that someone in unseen Orciny is manipulating the other cities. Through this exaggerated metaphor of segregation, Mieville skillfully examines the illusions people embrace to preserve their preferred social realities. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Fantasy veteran Miville (Iron Council, 2004, etc.) adds a murder mystery to the mix in his tale of two fiercely independent East European cities coexisting in the same physical location, the denizens of one willfully imperceptible to the other. The idea's not newJack Vance sketched something similar 60 years agobut Miville stretches it until it twangs. Citizens of Beszel are trained from birth to ignore, or "unsee," the city and inhabitants of Ul Qoma (and vice versa), even when trains from both cities run along the same set of tracks, and houses of different cities stand alongside one another. To step from one city to the other, or even to attempt to perceive the counterpart city, is a criminal act that immediately invokes Breach, the terrifying, implacable, ever-watching forces that patrol the shadowy borders. Summoned to a patch of waste ground where a murdered female has been dumped from a van, Beszel's Detective Inspector Tyador Borl learns the victim was a resident of Ul Qoma. Clearly, the Oversight Committee must invoke Breach, thus relieving Borl of all further responsibility. Except that a videotape shows the van arriving legally in Beszel from Ul Qoma via the official border crossing point. Therefore, no breach, so Borl must venture personally into Ul Qoma to pursue an investigation that grows steadily more difficult and alarming. Grimy, gritty reality occasionally spills over into unintelligible hypercomplexity, but this spectacularly, intricately paranoid yarn is worth the effort. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2009
The Shadow Year
Book Jacket   Jeffrey Ford
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061231520 Strange things are happening in a small Long Island community-a child disappears, a large, white car no one recognizes is seen creeping around, there's a smell of pipe smoke at odd times, and a Peeping Tom is scaring women at night. When the narrator, an introspective sixth-grade boy who likes detective stories, and his older brother decide to track the culprit, they set up a model of their town in the basement only to discover that their younger sister is predicting future events by moving the figures around. Edgar Award-winning author Ford (Girl in the Glass) perfectly captures life in small-town America in 1960, when the harsh realities of urban life-murder, child abduction, alcoholism, latchkey children-began affecting families like the narrator's. Spooky and hypnotic, this thoroughly enjoyable page-turner may remind some readers of Robert McCammon's Boy's Life, which evokes a similar nostalgic feel of the time period along with a corresponding mystery element to resolve. Recommended for all public libraries.-Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780061231520 In his latest novel, the author of The Girl in the Glass (2005) and The Empire of Ice Cream (2007), among other genre-bending tales, takes us back in time to the 1960s, when strange doings are afoot in a small suburban community. A schoolboy has vanished; a stranger has appeared; a prowler (possibly a pervert) is lurking about; and a librarian is losing her grip on reality. Keeping track of it all are several young chums, including the sixth-grade narrator; his older brother, Jim; and their sister, Mary, who may somehow be affecting what's happening as she rearranges figures on the toy model of the community in her basement. Imagine a young-reader amateur-sleuth novel written by someone like Kafka, and you'll have a pretty good idea of this one: surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue. Give this one to readers who appreciate the blending of literary fiction, fantasy, and mystery--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780061231520 In Edgar-winner Ford's disappointing sixth novel, the narrator-a nameless boy growing up on suburban Long Island in the mid-1960s-spends what remains of his summer vacation roaming the neighborhood with his older brother, Jim. At home, money is tight, forcing their father to work three jobs while their mother drinks herself to sleep every night. A prowler may be loose on the streets, and the narrator and Jim see a menacing man in a white car lurking near their house and school. When a local boy disappears soon after school starts, the narrator and Jim are sure "Mr. White" is responsible. They turn to their younger sister, Mary, for help, after she mysteriously moves figurines in the boys' model town, reflecting events before they've occurred. The stage is set for suspense, yet Ford (The Girl in the Glass) deflates it at every opportunity with his unresolved subplots. Instead of building to a thrilling climax, the story peters out and loose ends are either forgotten or tied up too neatly. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. From Edgar-winner Ford (for The Girl in the Glass, 2005), a tale about three kids, a small town and the banality of evil. The narrator is a sixth grader who has an older brother and a younger sister. They have an absentee father who works three jobs and an alcoholic mother. Were it not for the fact that they love each other—though none of them ever speak the word—it would be a family hell-bent on dysfunction. Still, for the most part, they've been able to consider themselves ordinary, until the night of the scream, the "shrill scream of a woman, so loud it tore the night open wide." And so begins the Shadow Year, a year dark with every possibility of violence and loss. Enter the prowler, a tall, thin man with expressionless, skeletal features, white hair, dressed, at every sighting, in a long white coat. People vanish. Shy, awkward little Charlie Edison is the first, and other disappearances follow. There are harrowing confrontations, brushes with death, a brief alliance with a ghostly presence. In their basement the children have constructed a clay and cardboard replica of their local community, its neighborhoods and citizenry, complete with a representation of their elusive nemesis. It's a town in flux, changing inexplicably and mysteriously. The conviction grows among them that by studying their model, they might be able to chart the terrifying progress of the prowler as he goes about the business of selecting targets. And then one day there's every reason to believe it's their own house he's scoping. Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too. For those of you—and you know who you are—who think the indispensable element for good genre fiction is good writing, this is not to be missed. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2008
Ysabel
 Guy Gavriel Kay
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780451461292 Ned Marriner joins his father, the famous photographer Edward Marriner, for an extended stay in Provence, an area of France steeped in both Celtic and Roman history. Then, a visit to Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in the town of Aix brings Ned together with Kate Wenger, an American exchange student, and a man who appears to be much, much older than one would think-and both Ned and Kate become caught up in another time where the reenactment of an old story draws the two young people into a cycle of myths and legends in which truth, love, courage, and sacrifice are the only things that matter. An explorer of history and myths, Kay (The Last Light of the Sun) has a special affinity for the people behind the larger-than-life legends that persist through time. His latest fantasy blends time and place in a crossing of worlds and universal truths. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780451461292 Kay (The Last Light of the Sun) departs from his usual historical fantasies to connect the ancient, violent history of France to the present day in this entrancing contemporary fantasy. Fifteen-year-old Canadian Ned Marriner accompanies his famous photographer father, Edward, on a shoot at Aix-en-Provence's Saint-Saveur Cathedral while his physician mother, Meghan, braves the civil war zone in Sudan with Doctors Without Borders. As Ned explores the old cathedral, he meets Kate Wenger, a geeky but attractive American girl who's a walking encyclopedia of history. In the ancient baptistry, the pair are surprised by a mysterious, scarred man wielding a knife who warns that they've "blundered into a corner of a very old story. It is no place for children." But Ned and Kate can't avoid becoming dangerously entangled in a 2,500-year-old love triangle among mythic figures. Kay also weaves in a secondary mystery about Ned's family and his mother's motivation behind her risky, noble work. The author's historical detail, evocative writing and fascinating characters-both ancient and modern-will enthrall mainstream as well as fantasy readers. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780451461292 In Kay's eagerly awaited new book set mostly in twenty-first-century Aix-en-Provence, 15-year-old Ned Marriner is spending a spring vacation with his celebrated photographer father during a shoot of the Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur. His mother, a physician with Doctors without Borders, is in the Sudan, so Ned and Dad are extremely worried. Exploring Saint-Sauveur, Ned meets American exchange-student Kate Wenger, who knows a lot about the history of Aix. The two surprise a knife-carrying, scar-faced stranger in the cathedral, who tells them, I think you ought to go. . . . You have blundered into the corner of a very old story. Ned and Kate, then the rest of his family, including the aunt and uncle from England and his mother, are drawn into an ancient conflict with the shades of Celtic spirits. Kay characterizes Ned superbly as he matures amid fantastic circumstances until he is able to make the final sacrifice; reader disbelief is unimperiled, and psychobabble unindulged. Outstanding characters, folklore, and action add up to another Kay must-read. --Frieda Murray Copyright 2007 Booklist
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2007
Soldier of Sidon
 Gene Wolfe
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After more than 15 years, Wolfe (The Wizard, 2004, etc.) returns to his historical-fantasy series (Soldier in the Mist, 1986, etc.). Around 500 b.c., narrator Latro, a Roman mercenary, suffered a head wound and now can't remember anything when he awakes each day, so he meticulously records his experiences in a scroll and must re-read it every morning. However, he is able to see and converse with ghosts and gods. Now, Latro sails with his friend, sea-captain Muslak, to Egypt—or so the scroll informs him—where Egypt's Persian satrap has commissioned Muslak to explore the largely mysterious upper reaches of the Nile. Both Latro and Muslak hire temple prostitutes to become their "river wives" for the duration of the journey. In addition, Latro commands a squad of soldiers. Also aboard are Thotmaktef the scribe, Qanju the official and Sahuset the magician. Occasionally appearing—to Latro, at any rate—are a talking baboon and a huge black cat. In a coffin Sahuset keeps Sabra, a wax statue shaped as a woman, and when Latro draws near, the statue comes to life and demands blood. Later, Latro acquires from the shade of a former pharaoh, Sesostris, a slave, Uraeus, who's also a cobra. A merchant, Charthi, asks Latro to make inquiries after his son, Kames, missing after traveling to the south in search of gold. The longer the journey grows, the more peculiar it becomes. More teasing than demanding—the text abounds with sly references to Latro's previous adventures; Latro, of course, doesn't remember them and, likely, neither will his readers. Well worth investigating, but not especially purposeful or compelling. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780765316646 Latro, the amnesiac visionary hero of Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, reaches the Egypt known to Herodotus in Wolfe's splendid historical fantasy. Wounded in battle, Latro has only one day's worth of memory and must write down his experiences so he will know who he is every morning. In compensation, he's able to see gods and supernatural beings and does not distinguish them from the mortals around him. Gaps in the record and Wolfe's Haggardesque device of the manuscript found in a jar make Latro the most postmodern of unreliable narrators, aware that he's writing a text, uncertain of its meaning and unable to keep its entirety in his head. For all Wolfe assures us that ancient Egypt is not mysterious, Latro's journey makes up a leisurely, dreamlike, haunted house of a novel, which brilliantly immerses the reader in the belief systems of the time, drifting in and out of the everyday and spirit worlds until the two become indistinguishable. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780765316646 The third novel about Spartan soldier Latro, cursed to forget each day's events, which necessitates faithful diary keeping (hence, the form the Latro novels assume), takes him to Egypt. Wolfe again makes his uneducated protagonist credibly eloquent about what happens and whom he encounters, which is particularly important here because Egypt is the classical world's California, where anything can happen and usually does. The long wait for the latest Latro has been well rewarded. --Roland Green Copyright 2006 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780765316646 Cursed with the inability to remember his words or actions from day to day, the soldier named Latro (or Lucius or Lewqys) finds himself in Egypt, the guest of a Phoenician sea captain who has agreed to take him on a voyage into his past. Visited regularly by visions of gods and holding on to a sense of continuity by keeping a diary he reads every morning, Latro searches for a way to lift his curse and remember his past so that he can live a normal life. Continuing the story begun in Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete, Wolfe brings his stylistic excellence and imaginative genius to this tale of a man who daily sees the world made new and who witnesses magic and miracles at every turn. A welcome addition from one of the genre's most literate and thoughtful authors; highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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