Monday, February 16, 2015

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/14

Some bloggers just take pictures of the books they get, but Antick Musings goes the extra step: we
actually glance at those books cursorily and quickly write something that may even be not too inaccurate! It's all because of our devotion to you the home viewer.

This week, we have five swell books for you, which you're sure to love and clasp to your bosom and buy multiple copies of to lift the fortunes of this entire benighted industry. So let's get right to them!

Last Man, Vol. 1: The Stranger is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels from the French team of Balak, Michael Sanlaville, and Bastien Vlives, set in a pseudo-medieval Europe among a group of young people training for the annual gladiatorial/magical Games. It's coming in April from First Second, and the rest of the trilogy will also be on its way this year -- so readers won't have long to wait for the full story.

Shadow is the second book in Australian fantasist Will Elliott's Pendulum Trilogy, after last year's The Pilgrims. It's a portal fantasy, in which a London journalist stumbled accidentally into Levaal, a world between world filled with dragons, magic, stone giants, Tormentors, and the evil Lord Vous, who is scheming to turn himself into a god. It has a lot of the well-worn furniture of standard epic fantasy, but it promises to be something more subversive or post-modern. But I do expect our journalist will succeed in stopping the Dark Lord from conquering all of the universes in the end. Shadow is a Tor hardcover, available February 24.

Shadow Scale is the sequel to the very popular YA fantasy novel Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. (Rachel Hartman.) It's set in another semi-medieval world, where dragons and humans mix -- and, as you might expect from the fact that it was popular, there are also human-dragon half-breeds -- don't think too closely about the mechanics of that; this is a book for young teenagers -- and our heroine, inevitably, is secretly one of them. This book sees more challenges and dangers for our half-dragon girl, as well as hints of a capital-D Destiny. It's coming in hardcover from Random House Books for Young Readers on March 10th.

The Devil's Detective is the first novel by Simon Kurt Unsworth, and it's pretty much what the title implies: the central character is a functionary in Hell, and he has to investigate when first a member of a delegation from Heaven is murdered, and then the string of killings continues. I have a soft spot in my heart for afterlife fantasies, so this looks very interesting to me. It's a Doubleday hardcover, coming March 3rd.

And last for this week is the book with the most stylish cover: A Darker Shade of Magic, the second novel by V.E. Schwab (who also writes young adult novels as Victoria Elizabeth Schwab), after the twisted superhero tale Vicious. Darker Shade is a sideways-in-time book, with a hero who travels among three alternate versions of London, each delineated by a color -- and, inevitably, he gets caught up in larger schemes that threaten not only his life, but all of the Londons as well. It's a Tor hardcover, available on February 24th.

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