The Garden of Empire – Lush, But Lightly Untended

Last year, J. T. Greathouse delivered a pleasant surprise with his debut fantasy novel, The Hand of the Sun King. Alder Wen was a particularly entertaining protagonist, despite his many follies. The book featured philosophical musings on the nature of power and Wen’s determined search for a third way between empire and rebellion that fomented…

Violet Made of Thorns Cover Photo

Violet Made Of Thorns – Not Sharp Enough

Violet Made Of Thorns by Gina Chen appeared delectable, but when it came time for the main course, the server dropped my plate before I could enjoy the meal. The book needed more ruthlessness, more scheming, and more stakes to make the story’s dark prophecy hit where it hurts. Unfortunately for me, it missed every…

Sandman Volume Eight: Worlds’ End – Stories Within Stories

Welcome to the inn between realms, where travelers shelter from reality storms and share stories to pass the time. Sandman Volume 8: Worlds’ End is my favorite sort of Sandman collection. Namely, the sort that features one-off tales in service of a grander theme and only tangentially related to the ongoing saga of Dream and…

Five Fantasy Cafes I’d Love To Visit

Sometimes, our favorite fantasy characters need a break—an escape from the woes of brutal, unforgiving worlds and a safe space to ruminate on life, or simply exist in peaceful solitude. Or perhaps characters just need a warm and welcoming atmosphere to encourage a few hours of friendship and laughter, insulated against the stress and harsh…

Heaven Official’s Blessing – Divine Storytelling

I’ve seen the hype surrounding Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s light novel, Heaven Official’s Blessing, and felt like an outsider having not jumped into the fandom as soon as Seven Seas Entertainment published its English translation. I had a feeling I would love this story, and I’m happy to share I proved myself right. Graced with…