February 1, 2017 Booklist 31 www.booklistonline.com
taking Lanner along to help. The case proves
tricky as the ghost has ingrained herself into
her portrait, and to remove her from the
house, they must pull her out and put her
in the storage container. The team interacts
with a few spirits in the book, but none of
the missions are scary. The story lacks the atmosphere of a truly terrifying haunting, but
the mystery itself and the members of the
agency are fun and compelling. This is a cozy
haunting story, instead of a poltergeist-filled
destination tale. —Emily Whitmore
Portal of a Thousand Worlds.
By Dave Duncan.
Feb. 2017. 450p. Open Road, paper, $18.99
(9781504038751); e-book, $12.99 (9781504038744).
Set in an alternate history of imperial
China, a complex tapestry following several
characters is woven with great skill. Omens
have begun to appear about a portal that
only opens every thousand years or so, always with catastrophic results, including the
failure of the ruling dynasty. Somehow tied
to this event are a strange young teenager,
imprisoned for being the Firstborn who has
been reincarnated for centuries and refuses
to do the bidding of the repressive ruling
government; a shadowy association of assassins; an emperor who isn’t what he should
be; and a threatening uprising in the south.
Each spotlighted element—the court, the assassins, the rebellion, and the Firstborn—is
carefully described and given depth by specific language. Readers who enjoy alternate
history, a touch of otherworldliness, and the
Far East will be enthralled with this book.
The Song Rising.
By Samantha Shannon.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632866240).
As Shannon continues her evocative,
smart, and exciting paranormal-futuristic
Bone Season series ( The Bone Season, 2013;
The Mime Order, 2015), Paige Mahoney, a
mere 19 years old, has won a battle royal and
become the Underqueen of the Unnaturals,
clairvoyants cruelly persecuted by the Scion
empire. Still recovering from her combat
wounds, Paige struggles to establish her
rule while grappling with unnerving doubts
about the loyalty of Warden, the rebel immortal Rephaite she relies on and, at great
risk, loves. But there is no time for healing or
reflection. Scion has created a new diabolical sensor technology that instantly identifies
clairvoyants, now designated enemies of the
state. This is all-out war, and capturing Paige
is top priority for Scion Grand Commander
Hildred Vance. As Scion declares martial
law, Paige, reckless, courageous, and heartbroken, sacrifices everything to search for the
source of the sensor’s mysterious power.
As before, Shannon vividly and purposeful-
ly realizes each meticulously detailed setting,
from London’s underground to outposts in
Scotland, while infusing her imaginative,
passionate, and gripping saga with profound
insights into humankind’s long, bloody
history of tyranny and the radiant ones
who zealously fight for freedom and justice.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Shannon
has a following, who will be marshaled by a
mammoth global marketing campaign.
YA: Paige is a magnet for fantasy- and
adventure-loving teens, who will relish
this entire electrifying series. DS.
The Stars Are Legion.
By Kameron Hurley.
Feb. 2017. 400p. Saga, $26.99 (9781481447935); e-book
Hurley’s latest stand-alone space-opera
novel depicts the Legion, a group of organic spaceships or “worlds” orbiting around
a shared sun, with the various lords of the
slowly dying worlds competing for ever-dwindling resources. All of the inhabitants of
the various worlds are women, with pregnancy and childbirth being automatic processes
seemingly tied to the needs of their particular worlds. The bulk of the story follows Zan,
an amnesiac continually sent by the lord of
Katazyrna to try and capture the mysterious
Mokshi, the only world to ever move from
its place in the Legion’s orbit. Another thread
follows Jayd, a woman with intimate ties to
Zan and her lost past, as well as world-al-tering plans for the Legion’s future. As Zan
explores not only space but the vast interior
of Katazyrna itself, Hurley takes the reader
on an exciting and at times breathtaking
journey through the world of her creation.
This novel is highly recommended for anyone looking for an inventive and engaging
science fiction experience. —Alan Keep
Very Important Corpses.
By Simon R. Green.
Mar. 2017. 208p. Severn, $28.99 (9780727886712);
Ishmael Jones, an alien operative of the
top-secret British organization known only as
the Organization, is sent off to Loch Ness,
where the shadowy and powerful Baphamet
Group—or the Bilderburg Group, as Ishmael
describes it—is holding its annual conference. He’s taking over the duties of head of
security for the conference, and his first job
is to find out who killed a young Organization operative who had been assigned to the
conference and to determine whether there’s
a spy lurking in the background. Ishmael is
a wonderful character, an extraterrestrial living among humans, and the series (this is
the third installment) is a clever mixture of
thriller and SF-horror genres. Green is best
known for the Deathstalker space operas,
but give this one a few more installments to
develop, and it could well become Green’s
masterwork. —David Pitt
By Cory Doctorow.
Apr. 2017. 384p. Tor, $24.99 (9780765392763).
In a world where scarcity is artificial—
thanks to the ability to 3-D print food,
clothing, and shelter—the hyper-rich zot-
tas are only getting richer, and there’s
no advancement in the
workforce. So, the disen-
franchised and unsatisfied
simply . . . walk away. This
has varying degrees of suc-
cess, and as communities
grow and develop new ways
of thriving, the inhabitants
of the “default” mode grow
increasingly threatening. We follow these
developments primarily through the view-
points of a young woman, born a zotta, who
calls herself Iceweasel; a young man with so
many names he goes by Etcetera; his friend,
Seth; and Limpopo, who is one of the ar-
chitects of a particularly successful approach
to Walkaway. The powers-that-be in default
periodically destroy too-successful Walk-
away communities, but when the Walkaways
find a way to cheat death through comput-
ing—which is the last out-of-reach dream
of the zottas—the violence increases. Doc-
torow’s characters are all rough edges and
awkwardness, with challenging and con-
flicting viewpoints, in a way that makes
them memorable and engaging. One of
the interesting thematic things Doctorow
does here is to engage with the “reputation
economy” concepts of his first novel, Down
and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003).
The sweeping epic, which covers decades
of Walkaway life—despite some difficult-
to-read but entirely believable character
trauma—is ultimately suffused with hope.
Winter of the Gods.
By Jordanna Max Brodsky.
Feb. 2017. 480p. Orbit, $26 (9780316385916); e-book
In the second book of Olympus Bound,
star-crossed lovers Theo and Selene take
on another ancient cult that is targeting
the ancient Olympians. Once heralded as
the Greek goddess Artemis the Huntress,
Selene now lives a quieter life in Manhattan, enjoying the company of her mortal
boyfriend, Professor Theo Schulz. Through
Theo’s scholarly perspective, readers enjoy a
fast-paced story in which the ancients—
including Selene, her twin Apollo, Demeter,
and Cupid—must outsmart and fight a rising of the ancient Roman cult of Mithras,
which is intent on sacrificing each ancient
Olympian to resurrect and restore Mithras
to power and bring about the Final Days.
But the ancient Olympians harbor a few
tricks of their own, including a dedication
to each other and their birthrights. This
battle, a metaphor for progress versus crude
brutality, illuminates timeless human depth
and the deepest meanings behind sacrifice.
Readers who enjoy detective fiction, ancient
Greco-Roman myth, and a bit of romance
will enjoy this series. —Nicole Foti