Dead Man’s Hand

by James J. Butcher

In a modern world where witches and non-witches live together, a washed-up witch hunter’s old partner is killed for a magical artifact. Based on her last words, the Hunstman finds Grimsby, a witch who washed out of the Department’s training program and now works at a Chuck-E-Cheese ripoff restaurant entertaining awful children. Together they go searching for the killer and the artifact—and Grimsby’s spine.

Good read. It didn’t suck me in, though. I’m not sure if the story was lacking something, or if hard-boiled detective fantasy just doesn’t do it for me any more. But this is the first book in a series and I’ll probably pick up the next one at some point to see where the story goes.

For what it’s worth, the author is the son of Jim Butcher, who writes The Dresden Chronicles, and this book is a chip off the old block.

Nona the Ninth

by Tamsyn Muir

I adore this series, but I don’t know if I liked this book. I don’t think I could actually explain what happened. It was all very vague. Maybe I just need to go back and re-read the first two books for clues.

I wouldn’t start with this book, anyway, but I’m still looking forward to the next one.

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution

by R. F. Kuang

I snapped up this book the moment I saw it, because I already loved R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. Babel is a hard book to describe but an easy book to recommend. But I’ll try to describe it anyway.

Babel is about communication, colonialism, cultural appropriation, and capitalism. It touches on so many of the conversations we have been struggling to have about those things—especially over the last few years. It is also about magic. The magic of silver working is literally lost in translation. It is a feast for word nerds (like yours truly). And it is a compelling story of unlikely friendships and reluctant heroes.

I loved it, and it’s going straight onto my book recommendations.

Son of the Storms

by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

An exiled and naïve young scholar discovers a forgotten people and their magic, and holds the key to even greater power. But so does his ruthless fiancé, who seeks power. Echoes of Dune, I thought, but to explain why would probably spoil the plot.

I never really connected with the characters, and somewhere in the middle the story started dragging for me. It was just OK, but not OK enough for me to want to continue the series.


by Brandon Sanderson

Look, Brandon Sanderson is one of the best fantasy writers there is, and this is the start of a promising new epic fantasy series with an innovative magic system, strong women characters, and plenty of adventure and political intrigue. The only bad thing is there isn’t a second book in the series, yet. I hate getting into a new series only to have to wait for the next book.

The Core

by Peter V. Brett

I think the hard part about a savior narrative is coming up with a plausible way for the savior to defeat the amassed forces of evil in the final battle. It’s always a little disappointing to me when the savior just has to dig deeper to get access to Ultimate Power and that’s that. It’s a little too predictable—and in the case of a story with a well-developed magic system, Ultimate Power often feels like it breaks the rules of that system. Am I talking about this book? Maybe. But I mean if you’ve made it this far you might as well find out how it ends.