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The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land) by Callie Bates, Del Rey, US $27.00, Pp 448, June 2018, ISBN 978-0399177415

Armistice: Book 2 in the Amberlough Dossier by Lara Elena Donnelly, Tor Books (A Tom Doherty Associates Books), US $16.99, Pp 400, May 2018, ISBN 978-1250173560

The Queen of Sorrow: Book Three of The Queens of Renthia by Sarah Beth Durst, Harper Voyager, US $21.99, Pp 420, May 2018, ISBN 978-0062413383

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising: A Novel by Raymond A. Villareal, Mulholland Books, US $27.00, Pp 432, June 2018, ISBN 978-0316561686

Noble sorcerer Jahan Korakides stood at Elanna Valtai’s side when she accepted her powers and led the revolution against the kingdom of Paladis. The magic of Jahan Korakides and Elanna Valtai played the key role in liberating the lands occupied by Paladis. Elanna is busy in restoring peace in the ravaged lands when they hear that emperor is planning another invasion. On hearing this, Jahan Korakides returns to Paladis to broker peace between Paladis and the newly liberated lands. Jahan Korakides’ return to Paladis does not help peace as magic is a crime in the kingdom and is punished by death. Jahan Korakides must keep his magical powers to himself. But as Jahan Korakides keeps receiving mysterious urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained him, the grand inquisitor’s hunters start suspecting him of sorcery. It is a dangerous and precarious situation for Jahan Korakides as the crown prince has also abandoned Jahan Korakides and he no longer enjoys royal protection. The news of Jahan Korakides’s return leads to the rise of his enemies again. As the long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again, Elanna is brought to the capital in chains again. But, now, she has been stripped of her magic. Jahan will have to face down the traumas of his past to defeat his shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life. More than that, they pose a threat to the future of the revolution itself. In The Memory of Fire, Callie Bates deepens the story she started in The Waking Land. The Memory of Fire is full of magic, intrigue, and adventure. It is a story of passionate romance weaved around magic. If there is a lot of romance, there is betrayal as well. It is an exciting fantasy.

The author of The Waking Land, Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometime artist, and nature nerd. When she’s not creating, she’s hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest, New York.

*****

In the book two of Armistice, Lara Elena Donnelly takes her readers to the fantasy world of Amberlough. It is a decadent world of sex, politics and spies. It is equally a world of music, culture and love as well as fascism, nationalism, revolution and class war. In this tropical country, shadowy politics lurk behind the scenes of its glamorous film industry. Three people play the high stakes game of statecraft and espionage — Aristide who is an expatriate film director, Cordelia Lehane who is a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary, and Lillian DePaul who is a diplomat reluctantly serving a fascist nation. Each of these three possesses dangerous knowledge that can destroy a nation. When their paths cross, they hatch machinations, build unexpected alliances, and expose long-held secrets. The fallout of a fascist regime’s victory is still haunting those who had succeeded to escape. After the triumph of the fascist regime, Aristide Makricosta left Amberlough and settled in the balmy country of Porachis where he enjoyed luxury and the friendship of charming young Daoud sp that he can forget his lover Cyril – the traitor spy who helped the victory of fascism. Aristide is ready to forget the past but the past follows him in the form of Cordelia Lehane who is currently the acting leader of the revolution. Cordelia Lehane is a former colleague of Aristide and leading the revolution from a distance. Cordelia Lehane haunts Aristide but there are others. Cyril’s sister, Lillian DePaul, is indispensable to the OSP as a press attaché. Lillian DePaul succumbed to pressure after they threatened her child. Others darken Aristide’s doorstep including the operative who allegedly killed Cyril. Aristide’s filmmaking boss is also involved in politics. The emerging situation pushes Aristide back to anti-OSP resistance. They can rescue Lillian’s son only if they work together. But they don’t know how far they can trust each other. It is written in brilliant English and powerful dialogues. It is a great fantasy thriller.

The author of Amberlough and Armistice, Lara Elena Donnelly is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, as well as the Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers, where she now volunteers as on-site staff and publicity coordinator. In her meager spare time, she cooks, draws, sings, and swing dances. After an idyllic, small-town Ohio childhood, she spent time in Louisville, Kentucky. She currently resides in Harlem, in a tower named after Ella Fitzgerald.

*****

The battle between vicious spirits and hard-headed queens that started in The Queen of Blood and continued in The Reluctant Queen comes to a conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the third book in Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy. Queen Daleina has long wanted to see peace and bring prosperity to her country. Her hope was doomed when the neighboring country’s army invaded Aratay. As the powerful Queen Naelin is ruling by her side, Queen Daleina sees her dream of peace in her land coming true. Queen Daleina believes that she can defeat the malevolent spirits thirsting for human life on her land with the help of Queen Naelin. But before they could wage a war on the evil spirits, the spirits kidnap Queen Naelin’s children. The evil spirits know that Queen Naelin loves her family and children more than anything. If forced to choose, Queen Naelin would choose to watch the world burn to ashes rather than see her children harmed. Queen Naelin starts preparing for a war with Queen Merecot of Semo who has kidnapped the children. But Queen Merecot is not in a mood to go to war with Queen Naelin. Abducting the children of Queen Naelin is a part of a grand strategy to change the future of Renthia. If her strategy succeeds, it will end the threat of the evil spirits forever and, if it fails, it will plunge the entire world into chaos. The Queen of Sorrow is a paranormal fantasy filled with intricate battles, a lot of action, intriguing strategies, and an entertaining story. The amazing fantasy characters remain true to themselves.

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of sixteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including The Queens of Renthia series, Drink Slay Love, and The Stone Girl’s Story. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her cat.

*****

When they found the body of a young woman in Nogales, a small border town in Arizona, they all thought she must have been an illegal immigrant as she could not be identified. The young woman, Liza Sole, apparently died of some unknown disease. Her blood had become solidified. But when the body disappears from the town morgue, they all are alerted to something they cannot guess. Nobody would be interested in illegally removing or stealing an illegal immigrant’s body from the town morgue without a reason. The local police call in the young CDC virologist Lauren Scott to consult. As Lauren Scott starts investigating her death, Liza Sole comes back to life and splits. Lauren Scott calls her, “Temptation in human form.” But, soon, more people die of the same mysterious disease or virus and their bodies also disappear from the morgue. It is the vampirism that is spreading around the United States and then around the globe. Vampirism changes the people – who are now known as gloamings/ vampires – and gives them more strength and beauty as they get a steady diet of blood. These changed people rapidly rise to prominence in all walks of modern life. Now, people begin to be re-created while accepting death if their bodies are unable to support the transformation. The new gloamings communities are divided as they spread around the world. The popular gloaming sites come under threat from a secret terrorist organization. All hell breaks out when a charismatic wealthy businessman runs for political office. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is an ambitious and scary fantasy about the apocalypse that may be mirroring the American politics and society. This unputdownable novel is highly entertaining.

Raymond A. Villareal is a practicing attorney in San Antonio, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas School of Law. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is his debut novel. Film rights have been optioned by 20th Century Fox and 21 Laps Entertainment.

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