A satisfying fantasy opus that will leave readers hungry for Morea’s next work.

THE AURORA WAR

This fantasy debut sees a dark face manipulating two kingdoms into war.

King Regulus has asked Magnus, the hero of the Great War that was fought five years ago, to come out of retirement. Although he’s a farmer now, Magnus is still known as the Phoenix of Regulus, and he remains the kingdom’s most honorable military man. He agrees to go on a diplomatic mission to Catalia, a nearby realm that’s approaching civil war. Magnus doesn’t get the chance to broker peace between the rebels and King Tobias’ forces, however, as his Regulan detachment, including 18-year-old knights Sain and Trun, suffer a Catalian ambush. Magnus and his men recover in Tset, the rebels’ capital. Their leader, Lord Garon, convinces the Phoenix to help them in their fight. Dagab, Catalia’s capital, has become a brutal place where a group of judges execute citizens who speak against them. When the judges’ field commander, Ragin, loses against Magnus on the Fillandrosa battleground, the group recalls Ragin’s soldiers from the western front. Sain then attempts to assassinate Ragin, but before he can, a shadowy creature captures Sain and transports him to Dagab. There, the knight meets Ragin’s sister, Fea, a rebel organizer. A demon, meanwhile, is using humans as pawns to reach the Aurora, a power source that comes from Velestra, the Goddess of Judgment. Author Morea sets an elaborate table, heaped with spiritual reckonings, magic-tinged war, and politics that mirror the current congressional gridlock. As an example of the dark tone, Fea grimly wonders if the phrase “all is well in Catalia” is “a sarcastic joke Dagabians told themselves or a convenient fiction they all bought into.” On the spiritual side, a man named Zelious guides Sain in matters of fighting and faith, telling him that “There are some things that are better left discovered, not told.” However, what truly separates Morea’s epic fantasy from so many others is its narrative compression, as events roll by quickly and ferociously, with plot enough to fill two volumes. The author also crafts a stunning finale for his well-traveled cast.

A satisfying fantasy opus that will leave readers hungry for Morea’s next work.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-974345-26-7

Page Count: 537

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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