cover image Lent


Jo Walton. Tor, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7906-1

In this powerful, thoughtful historical fantasy, Walton (Starlings) explores the struggle of meaningful redemption. On the eve of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s 1492 death, Dominican ascetic Brother Girolamo Savonarola—prophet and seer of Boschian demons—finds a green stone at a Florence nunnery. Only after building political power, negotiating Florence’s safety from a French army, establishing his utopian city, and undergoing terrible suffering does Girolamo learn he is not who he thought, and he realizes that the stone is his key to finding hope amid shock and loss. Alongside friends Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino (familiar from Walton’s Thessaly trilogy), he begins a struggle to harrow Hell, and changes history and himself. Girolamo’s mix of moral rigidity and reflexive kindness makes him a complex yet affecting guide to this intricate set of alternate histories, each rendered gently but with a devastating emotional weight. Fans of Connie Willis and The Good Place will be awed by this nuanced, loving grapple with better selves and better worlds. Agent: Jack Byrne, Sternig & Byrne Literary. (May)