Orbit Mini Reviews: The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, August Kitko and the Mechas From Space by Alex White, Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

*****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

The Stardust Thief is a delightful debut novel that weaves together storytelling a la 1001 Nights with an epic adventure. The worldbuilding here is stunning, building a rich Arab-inspired setting filled with jinn magic and supernatural monsters. With each new secret Louilie and her companions uncover, there’s a tale to show its story. Personally, I loved Qadir, Loulie’s steadfast companion and sometimes lizard. His relationship with Loulis was incredibly endearing but also Qadir on his own is just the best. Stardust Thief ends on worldbuilding cliffhanger and I can’t wait for book two! Overall I rate this a 4.5/5.


r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:

  • Published in 2022 (hard mode)
  • Non-Human Protagonist
  • BIPOC Author
  • Shapeshifters
  • Features Biological Family Ties

Publication Date: 17 May 2022
Publisher: Orbit
Format: eBoo, ARC
Pages: 468
Word Count: ~144,000
ISBN: 0316368768 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads


When an army of giant robot AIs threatens to devastate Earth, a virtuoso pianist becomes humanity’s last hope in this bold, lightning-paced, technicolor new space opera series from the author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.

Jazz pianist Gus Kitko expected to spend his final moments on Earth playing piano at the greatest goodbye party of all time, and maybe kissing rockstar Ardent Violet, before the last of humanity is wiped out forever by the Vanguards–ultra-powerful robots from the dark heart of space, hell-bent on destroying humanity for reasons none can divine. 

But when the Vanguards arrive, the unthinkable happens–the mecha that should be killing Gus instead saves him. Suddenly, Gus’s swan song becomes humanity’s encore, as he is chosen to join a small group of traitorous Vanguards and their pilots dedicated to saving humanity.

*****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

I’ve never thought to myself, ‘Wow, I wish this were a military sci-fi novel’ before, but reading August Kitko has checked that box. Seriously, the premise for it is so good. Giant enemy mechas have slowly been whittling away at humanity’s various space colonies, keeping each isolated from the others, with humanity on its last legs. Miraculously, one mecha and one human bond and must work with humanity’s remaining forces to turn the tide. There’s so much potential there! Tragically, this all gets ruined by one manic pixie dream enby named Ardent Violet, who spends more time narcissistically worrying their clothes aren’t colorful enough or that they haven’t kissed August recently than the fact that humanity is fucking dying?? Even the underdeveloped military leaders were more interesting. (Granted, I never like the ‘omg sparkly I’m so random’ characters so I have some bias). I’ve never devoted so much energy praying for a character to die, even if said character is a POV character. If you want a story about music-powered giant mecha battles and fighting intergalactic threats, save your time and go watch Macross Frontier instead. Overall, I rate this book a 1.5/5.


r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:

  • Published in 2022
  • Name in the Title (hard mode)
  • Features BiologicalFamily Ties

Publication Date: 12 July 2022
Publisher: Orbit
Format: audiobook, ARC
Pages: 464
Word Count: ~122,000
ISBN: 0316430579
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads


In a city filled with dangerous yet heavily regulated alchemical magic, a man from the slums discovers he may be its only hope to survive certain destruction in this wickedly entertaining fantasy. 

Welcome to Bezim, where sword-slinging bravi race through the night and rich and idle alchemists make magic out of mixing and measuring the four planes of reality.

Siyon Velo, Dockside brat turned petty alchemist, scrapes a living hopping between the planes to harvest ingredients for the city’s alchemists. But when Siyon accidentally commits an act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight—which is a bad place to be when the planes start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send Bezim into the sea.

It will take a miracle to save the city. Good thing Siyon has pulled off the impossible before. Now he just has to master it.

A dazzling fantasy bursting with wild magic, chaotic sword-fighting street gangs, brazen flirting, malevolent harpies, and one defiant alchemist.

*****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

Notorious Sorcerer has one of the most unique magic systems I’ve seen in a while, with a not-quite portal fantasy element when Siyon goes ingredient harvesting in other planes and an intricate, if not fully explained, system between the different planes and how they interact with Siyon’s world. The novel is extremely fast-paced, and I felt that some of the character work suffered for it. There was a degree of disconnect between Siyon and everyone else where I felt the motivations never truly felt fully justified. I also wish we could have dived more into city’s history and the academia aspect, especially since I never felt like I really understood what the law’s definition of magic vs alchemy was. Luckily, it seems we will be diving much more into the city’s history in the sequel! Overall, I rate this book a 3.5/5.


r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:

  • Published in 2022 (hard mode)
  • Title sans the, a/an, and, or, if, of, but

Publication Date: 13 September 2022
Publisher: Orbit
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 448
Word Count: ~142,000
ISBN: 0316398039 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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