30 June 2020

#Blogtour #Review - Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Jo Fletcher Books, 30 June 2020
Available as: HB, 301pp, e
Read as: e-copy via NetGalley
ISBN: 9781529402650

I'm grateful to Milly at Jo Fletcher Books for an advance e-copy of Mexican Gothic via NetGalley and for inviting me to take part in the book's blogtour.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the authors whose next book I always look forward to. Apart from anything else she's so versatile - this year we've already had an excellent Mexican noir from her (Untamed Shore), while last year saw her previous novel for Jo Fletcher Books, the 1920s Mexican-set fantasy Gods of Jade and Shadow (which you should read, if you haven't already).

Now we have - well, the title says it all, Mexican Gothic.

Mexico City, 1950. A young socialite, Noemí Taboada, is summoned from the latest party by her father and instructed to sort out a tricky family problem. Recently married cousin Catalina is unwell, and Naomí's father - who is also Catalina's guardian - wants Naomí to investigate. I loved the way Moreno-Garcia establishes both Naomí's self-possession - she is a confident young woman who knows what she wants and how to present herself to get it ('Naomí' looked a bit like Katy Juarado when she struck the right pose, and of course she knew what exact angle to strike') - and her place within wider Mexican society: a student of anthropology, in no hurry to be married (though she enjoys partying and social life, she's in no hurry to commit to any of the boys who are interested in her).

Noemí travels to the remote (and somewhat faded) town of El Triunfo outside which stands High Place, the home of the Doyle family into which Catalina has married. The Doyles are English and refuse to speak Spanish: they made their fortune mining silver, though the mine is now derelict and they have fallen on hard times (hence the alliance with Noemí's own wealthy family). This is a genuinely Gothic setting: High Place is a decayed mansion full of mouldering rooms and dust-sheeted furniture. There's a family graveyard wreathed in mist, a collection of hostile relatives - in particular matriarch Florence who present Noemí with a list of rules: no smoking, no noise, no visits to El Triunfo, limited contact with Catalina - and a series of mysteries: about the house, the family, and Catalina's physical and mental health.

There was a bit of a flavour here, I thought, of Cold Comfort Farm in the contrast between the modern young woman and the benighted Doyles, but unfortunately the inhabitants of High Place aren't to be easily reformed and the tension between them and Noemí fairly crackles. You can't miss the extent to which they cling to their Englishness: the family has been in Mexico for decades yet they doggedly speak English and maintain a Victorian outlook on life. It's easy to read this as a commentary on colonialism and post-colonialism, the source of the family's wealth having dried up and their whole purpose having been swept away by civil war and revolution even while they maintain their peculiar forms and customs, their foreignness clear in Mexico (they 'even brought European earth here').

Noemí is, as I have said, confident. She's used to getting her own way, both within her family and, as a wealthy young woman, in society more widely. ('She had experience dealing with irritating men'). Yet she may have met her match in the Doyles: older, established, arrogant and even rude in that specific way the English upper class still has, even in decay. ('You are much darker than your cousin, Miss Tabadoa'). It's clear there's a struggle for control going on here. Noemí is isolated, without allies, and doesn't have a clue what is happening. Because there is certainly something very sinister going on. As Noemí unravels the tragic family history of the Doyles, based on portraits, tombstones and fragments of stories she manages to collect in the town, it becomes clear that tragedy has followed them for generations with more than one untimely death. But how does this relate to what's happening to Cataline - and Noemí - now?

The unfolding of the story, with the creepy Gothic atmosphere growing thicker and thicker, combines with Noemí's growing doubts and fears, makes for an exciting and compulsive read. The family members present different threats, different challenges, from the haughty Florence to the monstrously unpleasant patriarch Howard to the smoother Virgil, Catalina's husband ('He was, likely, not used to being refused. But then, many men were the same.') I found myself torn between wanting Noemí to press them harder, to discover more, and fear of what might happen if she did. There's something dangerously unstable in the Doyle household with its devotion to eugenics, to taxonomical classification and to understanding the right place for every one, with its almost captive family members - younger son Francis has never travelled further than El Triunfo and seems almost hypnotically controlled by Florence and Virgil - and a history of violence gradually emerges.

While there's clearly something very wrong here, Moreno-Garcia kept me guessing almost till the end about the nature of the threat in High Place and about how that might influence a possible romance. Dark, scary, Romantic and deeply, deeply Gothic this is a remarkable book and an intense read. It's one I'd strongly recommend.

You can buy Mexican Gothic from your local bookshop, or online from Hive Books, which supports local shops, Blackwell's, Foyles, Waterstones, WH Smith or Amazon.

For more information about the book, see the publisher's website here - and the reviews on the other tour sites, listed on the poster below!

23 June 2020

Review: A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by HG Parry

Cover design by
Lisa Marie Pompilio
A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians
HG Parry
Orbit, 25 June 2020
Available as: PB, 516pp, e
Read as: PB advance copy
ISBN: 9780356514703

Snap verdict: It's complicated...

(CW for mention of enslavement and enslaved people).

I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of A Declaration of the Rights Of Magicians.

Following up The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heap, which saw literary characters escape their bindings to cause trouble in New Zealand, Parry's A Declaration of the Rights Of Magicians focuses on a very different kind of mayhem in late 18th century West Africa, France, Britain and the Caribbean.

It's an absorbing and at times harrowing historical fantasy. Parry imagines a whole overlay of magical oppression that reinforces the racial and cultural oppression of the period, and integrates it all into a history which well reflects - to this non-historian reader - the atmosphere, personalities and events of the time. It is very well done, making for an intriguing and, ultimately, engaging narrative. This is a book I enjoyed reading, although I do have some reservations - which I'll come to shortly. 

First, though, what is going on in A Declaration of the Rights Of Magicians

Well, to begin with, a young (six years old) girl is kidnapped in West Africa, enslaved, and trafficked to the Caribbean. She comes to be known as Fina, although that's the name her enslavers give her, not her real name.

A few years later, in Europe, magic is forbidden to Commoners. Nevertheless a young French boy, Camille Desmoulins, summons shadows and finds himself in trouble with the magical authorities. Provincial lawyer Maximilien Robespierre seeks to defend a young Commoner accused of a trivial act of magic. Barrister William Pitt does the same in London. We are also introduced to William Wilberforce, a young Englishman and a friend of Pitt, who is seeking a purpose in life. Perhaps he will join the Knights Templar who enforce the anti-magic laws?

Fina, landed in Jamaica, is subjected to magical control on a planation and to decades of backbreaking physical toil. Meanwhile the relationship between Wilberforce and Pitt develops as the former takes up the cause of ending slavery and the latter becomes Prime Minister. Robespierre rises through the ranks of revolutionaries as France teeters on the brink. Things come to a crisis as enslaved Africans in the French colony of Saint-Domingue rise in revolt, France declares itself a Republic and frees its magicians, and war with the United Kingdom looms - a war which will challenge all the constraints on magic that currently obtain in Europe.

As I have said, I enjoyed this book which is engaging and informative. Wilberforce and Pitt, on the one hand, and Robespierre, Desmoulins, Danton and the rest on the other, are of course real characters and as far as I am aware their "history" presented here in considerable detail is accurate (up to a factor of magic, obviously). Similarly while Fina is, I assume, an invested character, what happens to her is clearly representative of a wider catastrophe for Africa and its people (again, setting aside the magic).

It's impossible to ignore the fact that the book comes with almost spooky timing, being published only a few weeks after the toppling in Bristol of a notorious enslaver's statue during a Black Lives Matter protest (and amidst wider ongoing protest and debate). That makes it very of the moment, something that might not stand out so much if it was less rare for fantasy to deal with real world issues like this (it is getting less rare, but not yet so much that a book like this won't attract some attention for that reason). It's good to see a fantasy novel that avoids being another "Regency magic" story, engaging instead with the unpleasant realities of the period. I also enjoyed the focus given to the slave rebellions which are fully acknowledged as a source of freedom, as well as Wilberforce's Parliamentary efforts. 

However, I would qualify this a bit, for a couple of reasons. 

First, Pitt, Wilberforce, Robespierre et al get a lot more attention than Fina and her comrades. So there is exhaustive focus on the developments in the Parliamentary campaign against slavery, including lengthy (generally late night, well oiled) political and philosophical discussions between Pitt and Wilberforce, and equally detailed material on Robespierre's politics and actions. 

Meanwhile Fina's story - which covers some twenty years in contrast to a handful of years for the others - gets rather brief updates. It clicked with me about halfway through the book that this is because the book is primarily about the evolving relationship - politically and as friends - between Pitt and Wilberforce and about how these very different men cooperate to tackle slavery. It's a sign of how good Parry's writing is that the lengthy discussions between them are actually very, very interesting and the characters and humanity of the two men come fully alive. I have no idea how true they are to the reality, but as an able, energetic and principled Prime Minister, Parry's William Pitt certainly shines in contrast to more recent holders of the office, and Wilberforce's religious motivation is given respect and space to develop. The strain of realpolitik on this relationship and its eventual fracture is also a powerful theme. (Pitt as Prime Minister must pay attention to the practicalities and wider while Wilberforce, as a freewheeling idealist, need not). However, this does mean that while Fina and her comrades and their rebellion are in the end key to the story, it in in no way centred on them. 

There is also the place of the magic. Magic features here in several ways. As there are harsh laws in Europe against "commoners" using magic, and harsh punishments for breaking those laws, the position  of magicians as an oppressed group adds a new factor to, especially, the pre-revolutionary situation in France. Accordingly, when the Republic is declared it is "The French Republic of Magicians" (though most of the citizens are not actually magicians). 

Similarly, magic is used to control Fina and the other enslaved people, who are forced to consume an alchemical compound that robs them of their will (this is in addition to the chains and whips that feature in historical slavery). But in neither case is the outcome very different from the historical one (oppression stokes a bloody revolution in France and a harsh and exploitative slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean). For much of the book the magic is, in a sense, superfluous. While well thought out, it doesn't seem to be adding anything essential to the story or making a difference to it, except in the detail. 

In the end, it turns out that isn't quite right and I came to understand why parry has added magic to this version of the 18th century. it is there for a reason, rather than simply to drive a kind of "What if...?" game, and it does affect the fates of Fina, Pitt, Wilberforce, Robespierre and the rest. Moreover in the final few pages of the book (but almost not until then) we see that it will affect the future of San Domingue and of Europe. That's tantalising, though, because the story closes almost as soon as this is established. I think I smell a possible sequel and I hope that comes, because I really want to see how things play out and how characters who have been established so vividly might go forward into what looks like a much more magically-shaped world.

Overall, this is a powerful book with powerful themes. It wasn't perhaps quite the book I had expected but in discovering what it actually was I had a very enjoyable read.

For more information about the book, see the publisher's website here.

18 June 2020

#BlogTour #Review - Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds

Blood Red City
Rod Reynolds
Orenda Books, 23 July 2020
Available as: e, PB, 386pp, audio
Read as: PB
ISBN: 9781913193249

I'm grateful to Orenda Books and to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and providing me an advance copy of Blood Red City to review.

Blood Red City is an intense, adrenaline-pumping thriller set in London one hot summer. It's a London both achingly familiar - the sweaty Tubes, the amiable, heaving late evening crowds on the South Bank, the cab offices - and, in our current pandemiced world, utterly foreign (those crowds!)

In this close, yet far-off place, we meet Lydia, a thirtysomething journalist whose career has beached on the celebrity desk, and Michael, who also deals in "information", carefully turning a blind eye to just what that "information" might be used for. Lydia doesn't have a drink problem but is in circumstances ('Two drinks making Lydia philosophical') where perhaps one has to look carefully to conclude she doesn't have a drink problem. She is going nowhere professionally, feels guilt over the support she's had from parents, and wavers on the edge of money troubles in a tiny cheerless flat with a flatmate she seldom meets, as they work different shifts. Michael has his demons, which he's adept at ignoring or dodging.

On the evening of those two drinks, "Lyds" receives a video by email, a video which shows a murder on the Tube. It may be a big break for her, and for the ex-collegue who's sent it, a way back into the game. But as she investigates, bunking off her night shifts writing bilge about celebs, it becomes clear that it could also lead to darker places.

Michael already has one foot in that darkness and for him the video means something else - an unknown factor in his carefully managed, amoral world. A factor that could mean danger, that he's not in control, has missed something. He needs to shut it down.

The two investigate, their paths crossing, both of them tripping wires and raising red flags in London's murky cash-rich strata of corrupt bankers, lawyers and politicians. Meanwhile Michael has an ailing mother, beloved sister and hated father to handle: Lydia has her boss/ lover and a lot of loose ends.

It all makes for a winning noir formula, at heart very simple - a woman, a man, and a murder - yet also bafflingly complex as the pair run down dead ends, miss the significance of clues, work contacts and sail close to the law. The degree of tradecraft - journalistic and detective - is simply joyous, Lydia and Michael employing the best of their skills to coax secrets from London's seamier residents for all the world as if they were squeezing juice from rotten fruit.

And there is rot here. Dirty money, favours traded, rules bent or dodged, investigations stymied. An ex Mayor on the make. Oligarchs and those who eagerly serve them. Layer upon layer of fronts, cut-outs and shell companies. It has a ghastly feeling of reality, as though Reynolds has pulled back the curtain on an amoral world we all suspect is hidden just out of sight.

And yet there is some morality here. As in the best of classic noir there are lines not to be crossed, attempts to walk those streets without becoming mean, grubby compromises, and regrets. But where everything is so dirty, who can keep clean? With money to be made, who won't, in the end, join the game? As I read this book my speculation about who would bend and who would break was as intense as my efforts to work out what was going on and why. In the end, it was the former - and those glorious, well-drawn characters of Lydia and Michael - that was the most compelling. Here are protagonists you will really care about, even if they can behave shabbily. Reynolds has given us a glorious, compelling story, a fast-moving, heart-in-the-mouth chase set against the magnificent background of London in all its pomp, all its grime and shabbiness.

This book is a winner. My advice - get it, before it comes looking for you...

For more information about the book, see the Orenda website here.

There are many more stops on the tour - see the poster below and collect them all!

You can buy Blood Red City from many places. Your local independent bookshop may, even in current circumstances, be able to get it for you. You can buy online from Hive Books, which supports local bookshops. You can also order from Blackwell's, Foyles, Waterstones or Amazon.

16 June 2020

Review - The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

The Vanished Birds
Simon Jimenez
Titan Books, 16 June 2020 (e), 6 August 2020 (PB)
Read as: PB advance review copy, 416pp
ISBN: 9781789093926

Snap Verdict: Kept me up reading past midnight...

I'm grateful to Titan Books for an advance copy of this book to consider for review.

Well. The Vanished Birds is really something else, a SF story abiding in that sense of wonder which is the heart of the genre. It's a difficult book, though, to describe, in part because reducing it to a plot summary simply doesn't do it justice, so it's then hard to have a discussion about what's in it.

I could say that it's about the attempt of a space freighter captain, Nia Imani, to care for a stray boy who's brought to her ship after turning up on a remote planet; that it's about a legendary engineer trying to sidestep the all-powerful Umbrai corporation, rulers of the spacelanes, to find humankind's next evolutionary step; that it's a far-future SF story grounded in the climate chaos of the near-future; that it's about love, loss and guilt. 

All of this would be true, but it wouldn't really convey what the book is like.

So I'll start by saying that The Vanished Birds is above all, perhaps, cinematic in the way it leaps from the small to the huge, from the now to the deep past. The first third of the book, especially, zooms in and out. We are first introduced to the "resource world" Umbrai-V (old name, Kaeda: we will learn more about this process of making planets into "resource worlds"). On Umbai-V, farmers spend their lives harvesting seed-pods, to be collected every fifteen years by a fleet of off-world ships (with no recompense, as far as I could see). It's very detailed, very particular, following the life of one man, named Kaeda after the world. You see, the fifteen years between arrivals of the freighters is merely several months for the ships' crew, so Kaeda's fleeting contact with the outside works, which sees him age from a young boy to a hale young man to an older, wiser man, and then to decay, is simply a few years' work in a lifetime for the crew, but an entire lifetime for him. 

We see the arrival of the mysterious boy, the departure of the fleet and its return to Pelican Station, where people are preparing for a festival in honour of Fumiko Nakajimi. Then we reel back to Fumiko's early life in the 22nd century, the most recognisable part of the book, a world of social media, environmental activism and predatory capitalism. Fumiko's character flaws, revealed here, the choices she makes, will cascade forward a thousand years into the future and affect events then.

After this scene setting, the story proper begins, following Nia's voyage and the eventual fate of that boy. That's a tenderly portrayed and deeply moving portrayal of a woman who has made her living as a shrewd and tough captain, finding something else in her life and struggling to come to terms with it. It's the story of a young man who doesn't know who he is or the terror he has come from, learning with delight about this strange universe and being prepared for the choices he, too, will have to make. I won't say anything about those choices because they will come at the right time and we don't wasn't to rush towards them. There is a happy time in the middle of this book where a family of sorts forms, where there is exploration - of the universe and of ourselves - and lots of learning. 

Of course that can't last, and as things fall apart, the book becomes very, very dark. I was raging at one character, aghast at some of what happens here and so, so sad at what becomes of the little family. In the course of the book Jimenez has created such vivid, real and human characters - with their own desires, fears and trauma - and I felt for them, for the imperfections of their lives, the little betrayals, compromises and wriggles. Yet there's a greater theme here, too: the way the Umbrai corporation, post-Earth, lords it over humanity. We are given to understand that, with Earth facing ruin, the corp has taken billions off planet, destined for the stars. But of course it's only taken those who can pay, or who seem useful: the ruinous social and economic system that has doomed Earth has metastasised into the Galaxy, hence those resource worlds and contracts which bind people beyond the grave. 

At this time, and in this place, nobody seems to be opposing Umbrai - a resistance is growing, but it will demand a price...

A totally immersive, beguiling and tear-jerking saga, genuinely new and different. Strongly recommended. 

For more information about the book, see the publisher's website here.

12 June 2020

Review - Lady of Shadows by Breanna Teintze

Cover design by Rory Kee
Lady of Shadows (The Empty Gods, 2)
Breanna Teintze
Jo Fletcher Books, 16 April 2020
Available as: TPB, 322pp, e
Read as: TPB
ISBN: 9781787476486

I'm grateful to Jo Fletcher Books for an advance copy of Lady of Shadows to consider for review.

I was pleased to see this follow up to Lord of Secrets, picking up the adventures of rogue magician Corcoran Gray and his partner, escaped temple slave Brix, some six months after the events of the previous book.

The books are set in what seems at first glance to be a generic fantasy world, but Teintze's handling of her material soon gives the lie to that. Gray is driven to the town of varied - and into the reach of the all-powerful* Mages' Guild to whom he's a rebel, an outcast and an outlaw - not by a desire for treasure of adventure but because he can't sleep easily at nights.

He can't sleep because of trauma caused by the events of Lord of Secrets. It's not so much that he died and was incarnated into a handily empty body by his necromancer grandfather. No, it's the thirty two deaths (count them. Thirty. Two. Gray reminds us of the number several times) that occurred in that battle. Gray didn't cause them, but he feels responsible. Guilty. He also, clearly, feels the horror of what happened. When he sleeps, he casts spells. Sooner or later things will go to the bad. So he's come seeking a remedy... and stumbles into a mess of plots, counter plots and Guild intrigues.

Also - and how spookily timely is this? - there's a plague abroad, a mysterious thing that seems to target mages and the mysterious Tirnaal, Brix's people. As if this doesn't make Gray's life complicated enough, add in a zealous Guild inquisitor who wants to use him to find out what's going on in the city of Genereth, where the plague seems to have started and who WILL see him hang outside the guild house if he refuses - and you get, frankly, a mess.

This book is great fun. I enjoy Gray's sort of character - someone who basically wants a quiet life and some peace to get himself together, but who the world won't leave alone. What happened in Lord of Secrets changes him and made him an important piece on the board, so Guild, Gods, and other factions now see him as a means to an end not just a nuisance. After what Gray went thorough he can be forgiven for being very, very suspicious of those around him and he's not helpless, but Genereth is a dangerous place and there's a mystery to be solved. So the book is part fantasy, part detective story with elements of caper, and, in the rather tenderly drawn relationship between Gray and Brix, also elements of romance.

They're a strong pair of central characters, trusting and close but with a lot of history (in a short time) behind them and the situation creates its own strains. Generate is the ancestral city of the Tirnaal, the place from which Brix and her sister were abducted and enslaved, and so there's an element of "meet the family" to this story. Gray has his worries. The Tirnaal don't like magic a great deal (they have their reasons) so how will they react when one of their own takes up with a mage? Once she's returned home, will Brix want to leave? Despite the breakneck pace of this story - things don't really let up from the moment the party arrive in the city to the last page - Teintze gives space to this very human, very normal story and it motivates both Gray and Brix throughout.

A strong second part in this series, Lady of Shadows intelligently develops the situation from the first book and opens up much wider possibilities - and dangers - for Gray and for Brix. I somehow don't think he's going to get that peace and quiet any time soon...

For more information about the book, see the publisher's website here.

*Actually the Guild is less than all-powerful with the authorities in general suspicious of the mages, which adds a tasty dash of politics and uncertainty to the whole narrative

2 June 2020

Review - The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

Cover by Peter Bollinger
The Obsidian Tower (Rooks and Ruin, 1)
Melissa Caruso
Orbit, 2 June (e), 4 June (PB) 2020
Available as: PB, 488pp, e
Read as: PB
ISBN: 9780356513188

In The Obsidian Tower, Caruso returns to the content of Eruvia some 150 years after the events of her previous Swords and Fire trilogy. The cruel enslavement of mages in Raverra is no more, and the focus of this first book in Rooks and Ruin is on the territory of Morgrain which is part of Vaskandar.

I enjoyed seeing things from the perspective of a region ruled by one of the Witch Lords (actually, the Lady of Owls) and in fact that's not the only perspective shift we see here. What will strike the reader immediately, I think, is the strange, but utterly timely, position of Caruso's main protagonist, Exalted Ryxander ("Ryx" to her friends). Put simply, Rxy has to keep a distance from anyone else, in case they die. An early scene sees her recall meeting a friend, each sat at one end of a bench, clearly maintaining the requisite 2m social distance. Caruso swears that she didn't use a crystal ball, or other means of divination, to pitch her story so squarely at our present circumstances but she's clearly off to something of a head start in reflecting the world of 2020.

The detailed reason for Ryx's behaviour are something I'll leave for now - spoilers! - but it is intimately bound to her position I the magical hierarchy of Vaskander and Caruso imagines it, and the challenges it poses, well, from the frightened pageboy who realises too late that he's close to the faces of the castle servants as they to the real possibility - present throughout this book - that Ryx will be brought to account for a death under the harsh customs of her nation.

As if that threat wasn't enough, the book presents us with an intricate mixture of ancient magics, modern diplomacy, pigheaded will-to-power and the simple desire of a young woman to live a little (not easy, in her particular circumstances). Delegations from hostile powers have assembled at Ryx's home, Gloamingard, to settle a territorial dispute and the fate of the content - war or peace - may turn on the result. Castle Gloamingard has something of the incremental, haphazard construction of a Gormenghast with forgotten corridors, hidden rooms and secrets passageways. It also harbours a four thousand years old secret - a doorway that must not be opened.

Caruso has sone fun with that trope. Of course we know that door's going to open! Of course we know the consequences will be bad! But rather than dwell on what horrors may follows - we do find out, but not for a good while - we are given the politics around the event. Imagine Denethor, Saruman, Gandalf and Sauron's ambassador sitting down too negotiate the fate of the Ring. Yes, Ryx is staging a peace conference, complicated by a series of murders (for one of which she is being blamed) while coping with the absence of a key ally and her own, personal difficulties. Essentially a bad day at the office (for a very special value of "office").

The book succeeds brilliantly, forcing Ryx to play for high stakes against some really, really awkward people. The action mostly takes place within Gloamingard itself, giving the book - as the murders begin - a bit of the air of a country house mystery (for a very special value of "country house"). One difference is that country house mysteries don't generally invoke continent-scale warfare.

Another is that they don't normally have protagonists as absorbing, well drawn and engaging as Ryx. In her, Caruso has given us a truly memorable woman, struggling to live with and overcome disadvantages in a society that's snootily obsessed with skills and talents and which attempts non too subtly to silence and marginalise her. She's having none of that, and fiercely pursues both what she sees as her duty to her people and her desire for some life of her own. Of course, the question of what will happen if - when - those aims collide hangs over this book - but I'd trust Ryx to find a way through in the end.

All in all this is a zinger of a book, suggesting that Rooks and Ruin will be every bit as readable, absorbing and epic as was Swords and Fire. If not more.

The Obsidian Tower is published in the UK as an e-book on 2 June and as a paperback on 4th. I'm grateful to Nazia at Orbit UK for an advance copy to consider for review.

For more information about The Obsidian Tower, see the publisher's website here.