The Heart of the Circle

Keren Landsman, trans. from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir. Angry Robot, $12.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-85766-811-0
Intimacy and magic-as-allegory tangle in Geffen Award–winner Landsman’s first work translated into English, an ambitious novel whose multiple elements never cohere. Waiter Reed Katz is a “moody”—an empath who senses and manipulates emotion—in modern Tel Aviv, where a pariah community of sorcerers barely copes under segregation laws and winked-at extremist violence. When Reed’s ex-boyfriend, Blaze, returns with an American girlfriend, Reed falls fumblingly in love with her empath brother, Lee. Then anti-sorcerer attackers target Reed, and his family—biological and chosen—must take a daring chance to save his life and the sorcerers’ future. Jerky pacing and a rocky marriage of genres mar the story: slice-of-life relationship vignettes and tense political stakes undermine each other, and both screech to a halt for repeated explanations of the magic system. At heart this is more a romance novel than anything else, which may confuse readers expecting urban fantasy. Vague descriptions—“A few couches were scattered inside, with typical dance music playing in the background”—flatten the setting, and the characters are mostly ciphers. Reed’s discomfort with Blaze’s bisexuality also diminishes the themes of equality and acceptance. This earnest paean to community is overwhelmed by its scattered execution. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/03/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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