An engaging fantasy/romance set in a large, lush, and inclusive world.

A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON

An anxious young prince must reconcile his duties to his family and friends with his growing fears of failure.

Second in line to the Araşti throne, Prince Kadou can intuit the contents of metal alloys just by touching them—a skill that leads him to investigate a counterfeiting scheme in the capital city. His investigation leads to a frightening confrontation with his niece’s biological father, a foreign-born noble named Siranos. Kadou takes his concerns about Siranos to his lover, Tadek. Tadek is a kahya—a bodyguard trained in the ways of courtly life—and it is in that capacity that he begins to investigate Siranos. That secondary investigation spirals out of control, leaving three other kahyalar dead, Tadek stripped of his position, and Kadou and Siranos confined to the palace. In the aftermath, the taciturn Evemer, another kahya, arrives to take Tadek’s place. Reeling from the kahyalars’ deaths and Tadek’s dishonorable discharge, Kadou drags Evemer along on a reckless quest to drink and fight his way through the undercity. But when they stumble upon a lead, Kadou and Evemer continue the original investigation, unraveling a conspiracy that leads to the very heart of the Araşti palace. Far more engaging than the court intrigue, however, is the slow burn of Kadou and Evemer’s inevitable romance. In crafting their world, Rowland has drawn inspiration from the Renaissance-era Ottoman Empire, with characters described as having “golden” skin and “glossy black hair,” and much of the Araşti language is derived from Turkish. Other countries appear to be based on Greece and France. The matriarchal defaults and three-gender system present in Araşti society place the novel squarely among the ranks of contemporary queer fantasy. Kadou is gay, Evemer and Tadek are bisexual, and another of the kahyalar, who is third-gender, is openly asexual.

An engaging fantasy/romance set in a large, lush, and inclusive world.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-80038-1

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Tordotcom

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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