I did most of my reading via audiobooks in June, but I did also finish a recent hardcover book, so I still felt like I was starting to get back into the swing of things. The number of books I finished this month was comparatively low, and two of them were short stories in audio form, but Shorefall was a bit of an epic listen, so that balances things out.
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
The first book in this trilogy, Foundryside, was one of my favorite reads of last year, and the follow-up does not disappoint. In Shorefall, Sancia and her friends at Foundryside are trying to change the world by democratizing the art of scriving.
That all comes to a screeching halt when Crasedes Magnus, most powerful scriver of all time, comes back from the dead and starts trying to change reality for the “good of humanity”.
Bennett loves exploring the potential abuses of his magic system, uncovering the horrifying human toll required to do the prophet’s many “great works” in the name of bettering society.
This series combines social justice, politics, heist capers and snarky lesbians in a slam-bang adventure story that doesn’t shy away from horror and disturbing moments. I can’t wait for the final volume, whenever it may arrive.
Lullaby by Jonathan Maberry
I’ve read a few books in Maberry’s Joe Ledger series and generally enjoyed their occasionally absurd military vs. zombie action, so I was game for more of his work. (Even though he did gratuitously fridge a major female character in the last Ledger book I read.)
That said, Lullaby was an interesting change of pace. It’s more of a sedate, claustrophobic ghost story about parental worries and grief, the tone creeping dread instead of slam-bang action.
I really only listened to it because I was going through the shortest books in my Audible library, and this one was a freebie a few years ago. This was a decent enough short story, although it felt like it owed a debt to the many stories about haunted families that came before.
Masked Ball at Broxley Manor by Rhys Bowen
This was another Audible freebie that I listened to just to have something quick that I could finish in one sitting. I like the narrator, Katherine Kellgren, so I was willing to give this a shot even though it is a prequel to the Royal Spyness series, which I haven’t read.
This was a fun, frothy little mystery that I remember absolutely nothing about as I write this capsule review months later. I remember liking it enough that I would be willing to keep reading the full series, but I feel like this story doesn’t really work as a standalone piece.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
I picked this up because I was looking for books released in 2020 that I could buy from bookshop.org, the indie bookseller site that launched to much fanfare at the start of this year. I’m glad I did.
Linus Baker is a caseworker for the absurd, dystopian Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Imagine if the Harry Potter books started with a bureaucrat inspecting Harry’s living situation and moving him to a properly accredited orphanage instead of Hagrid whisking him away off to Hogwart’s, and you’ll get a bit of the picture.
Linus is a buttoned-up, closed-down man, and when he is sent on a special assignment to a super-secret orphanage, he intends to do his duty to the letter of the law. What he doesn’t expect, however, is to be completely disarmed by strangely attractive proprietor of the orphanage and his oddball charges, one of whom is allegedly the antichrist.
The House on the Cerulean Sea is all about found families and outcasts finding their place in the world. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming, oftentimes hilariously absurd book, and I found myself misty-eyed at more than one point. Highly recommended.
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