Fantasy that entertains and enlightens.

STARLIGHT ENCLAVE

The first installment of Salvatore’s new fantasy trilogy returns readers to the Forgotten Realms with an adventure revolving around Catti-brie, the wife of the author’s signature character, the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden.

After the birth of their daughter, Brienne, Drizzt is markedly changed—spending more time contemplating deep existential questions and trying to rediscover the clarity and purpose in his life. To those ends, he decides to travel with his toddler daughter to the Monastery of the Yellow Rose to train with the monks and introduce Brienne to Grandmaster Kane. As Drizzt embarks on his own spiritual quest, his wife joins forces with smooth-talking drow mercenary Jarlaxle, human assassin Artemis Enteri, and weapons master Zaknafein, Drizzt’s father. At Jarlaxle’s request, the quartet of adventurers (via magic portal) travel to the top of the world searching for a person who, if found, could stop the drow city-state of Menzoberranzan from destroying itself in a civil war. But aside from almost dying multiple times over in the strange world without true night—the killing cold, frost giants, polar worms, etc.—the group finds something completely unexpected, a revelation that will change the way they look at the world, and themselves, forever. Longtime fans of Drizzt Do’Urden will surely enjoy the novel’s breakneck pacing, nonstop action, cast of familiar and beloved characters, and deep philosophical exploration throughout. This storyline, in particular, packs a thematic wallop that is both timely and timeless. “We’re never to see peace—none of us—until we come to recognize that a child of a culture that is not our own is as precious as one who is.” And although the transitions between the two story threads aren’t exactly smooth, some fight scenes are a bit flat, and the conclusion is little more than a respite until the next installment, readers should embrace Salvatore’s newest adventure with Drizzt and company.

Fantasy that entertains and enlightens.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302977-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

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THE CITY WE BECAME

This extremely urban fantasy, a love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author’s home of New York, expands her story “The City, Born Great” (from How Long ’Til Black Future Month, 2018).

When a great city reaches the point when it's ready to come to life, it chooses a human avatar, who guides the city through its birthing and contends with an extradimensional Enemy who seeks to strike at this vulnerable moment. Now, it is New York City’s time to be born, but its avatar is too weakened by the battle to complete the process. So each of the individual boroughs instantiates its own avatar to continue the fight. Manhattan is a multiracial grad student new to the city with a secret violent past that he can no longer quite remember; Brooklyn is an African American rap star–turned–lawyer and city councilwoman; Queens is an Indian math whiz here on a visa; the Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who runs a nonprofit art center; and Staten Island is a frightened and insular Irish American woman who wants nothing to do with the other four. Can these boroughs successfully awaken and heal their primary avatar and repel the invading white tentacles of the Enemy? The novel is a bold calling out of the racial tensions dividing not only New York City, but the U.S. as a whole; it underscores that people of color are an integral part of the city’s tapestry even if some White people prefer to treat them as interlopers. It's no accident that the only White avatar is the racist woman representing Staten Island, nor that the Enemy appears as a Woman in White who employs the forces of racism and gentrification in her invasion; her true self is openly inspired by the tropes of the xenophobic author H.P. Lovecraft. Although the story is a fantasy, many aspects of the plot draw on contemporary incidents. In the real world, White people don’t need a nudge from an eldritch abomination to call down a violent police reaction on people of color innocently conducting their daily lives, and just as in the book, third parties are fraudulently transferring property deeds from African American homeowners in Brooklyn, and gentrification forces out the people who made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. In the face of these behaviors, whataboutism, #BothSides, and #NotAllWhitePeople are feeble arguments.

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-50984-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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